05
Apr
10

I Can’t Draw My Own Characters!

I just decided that I am drawing Meela wrong. I used to draw her nose low on her face, but have decided it looks better higher up. Early on, I had decided her mouth would also be high on her face, close to her glasses. No longer. Mouth lower is cuter.

There is an ongoing quest on my part to improve the design of my characters. Space Base 8, my comic strip, has been on the web now for ten months, and I am only just now starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of the look of the thing.

Cargo is a big problem. He is my main character, yet I am concerned that his design is not appealing enough. I would like him to be… cuter. He isn’t a cute character, but I really want him to be “better looking”. I hate drawing his body… the length of his arms and size of his hands, the proportion of his head to his body… this stuff all makes me crazy when I draw Cargo! I try to put him in dynamic poses while keeping his pose easy to understand, you know, “easy to read”, but this is so difficult. This is a problem animators have to solve all the time, and I do not envy them!

I have been drawing cartoons for as long as I can remember, and only writing jokes for about a year. So why does writing seem to come so much easier? Sometimes I actually dread drawing the strip. It must be because  I am afraid of hard work.

Guess it is time to take a break.

21
Jan
10

Big Buffer

Man, oh, man is it ever difficult for me to make enough time to put out three lousy comic strips a week!

Three strips a diggity ding-dong week. Not seven, like Charles Schultz did with Peanuts for fifty (that’s FIVE-OH) years. Only Uno Dos Tres. Three. The magic number on Schoolhouse Rock. The number of fingers on most funny animal cartoon hands. Plus a thumb. Only three.

I started Space Base 8, my comic strip, at five strips a week, Monday through Friday. I had two months worth of five-day-a-week cartoons saved up as a buffer. I planned on keeping two months ahead. The last thing I wanted was to find myself drawing tomorrow’s comic strip today. What if I wanted to take a vacation? What if I broke my hand? What if I was hung over? I wanted a lot of comic strips drawn ahead of time for emergencies. I wanted a Big Buffer!

Well, sir, within two months I fell far behind schedule, and saw my buffer go from two months to two weeks!  I stopped posting to this blog, Monkey Always wins, because I needed all my time to draw the comic. That didn’t help much! No Bueno! Must have Big Buffer!

Things looked grim. Drastic measures needed to be taken, so I switched from five to three days a week, to lighten the weekly workload. GUH! That really broke my heart, because I wanted to get a lot of strips out there. I wanted to show I was a serious, prolific cartoonist. But at least now I could use the extra time, and rebuild the Big Buffer, right?

Wrong! Why are you so optimistic? Yeesh. “Half full”, my patootie!

I fell even further behind! Soon I found myself in living The Nightmare. Sunday night you could find me in the studio, putting the finishing touches on Monday’s strip. Oh no! Bad! More drastic measures had to be taken, And more heartbreak.

I switched to digital coloring. Zeus help me, digital coloring!

For more than one hundred comic strips, I had fully painted the original art of Space Base 8 in gouache. (I love gouache!) These masterpieces were hand lettered and  rendered in color, ready to frame. Truly beautiful to behold. Surely they would someday fetch a higher price than other cartoonist’s simple black and white ink scribbles! Scribbles that were later colored digitally. Reluctantly i decided to save time by computer-coloring my strips. At least now I ‘d have time to Big my Buffer, right?

Oh, I couldn’t fool you this time, could I?

Though digital coloring can be very speedy, I still could not catch up. I finally crumpled to the floor, a wiggly word bubble over my head containing just a scribble of exhaustion. I could not handle it.

So I took a week off. No new comics for a week. And yet I am still no further ahead than I ever was.

As I write this I still have not started Monday’s strip. I have not been able to do it. Big Buffer is still a dream. But I will not give up. My comic strip is what I have wanted to do ever since I was a kid. I have come too far to let it slip away. I am lucky that I still remember my dream, even though I’m and old guy now. I am lucky that I have what little time there is to do what I really love. And most of all I am lucky to have a fantastic and supportive wife who encourages — no, insists — that I get into the studio and get back to work on my comic.

So back to it!  Back to the desk and the computer! Back to three strips a week! And back to chasing the elusive, gilded trophy called the Big Buffer.

10
Jan
10

Been A Long Time

I have not posted to this blog in ten thousand years!

When I started to work on Space Base 8, my webcomic, I also started this process blog to document my trials and tribulations as I developed my comic strip. Gosh and gollies! I soon became so overwhelmed by the work of actually producing the strip, I couldn’t make time to blog about producing the strip!

It has been about six months since the last post, and boy, oh boy do I have stories to tell. So many discoveries and failures and changes and… and… aaaaannnnddd…

For example, I can tell ya about how I started out doing the comic five days a week, and switched to three… About painting the first one hundred or so comics with real paint and then switching to ink and computer coloring… About learning to use WordPress and how updating it caused headaches…

And I will start telling you abut them right away.

I mean in just a little bit.

I mean, um…

Soon. Promise!

19
Jun
09

Introducing Meela

Today’s Space Base 8 comic strip introduces one of the main characters, Meela. Along with Cargo, the crash test monkey, and Lighthouse, the robot (yet to be seen in the strip but previewed here), Meela was one of the first characters I came up with for the strip.

Here is a gallery of early concept sketches for Meela.

Her character design was fun, But the real surprises came when I started writing her into the storyline. As I write this blog, her story hasn’t been revealed in the comic strip yet, so I won’t give any spoilers. But I will tell you that I now understand what writers mean when they say their characters take on a life of their own and it is the characters who tell the writer what is going to happen, not the other way around.

Read the comic strip and find out what happens, and come back to the blog and read more about my process!

meela1

meela2

meela3

meela4

15
Jun
09

Don’t Quit My Day Job

I have a real job in the real world, believe it or not.

Okay, I guess Disneyland is not really the real world. Let me start over.

I have a real job in the Magic Kingdom, believe it or not.

No, still not right. Once more…

I have a phoney baloney job at Disneyland, believe it or not.

Nope, that is totally believable to anyone who knows me. Can’t say “believe it or not”. Let’s try again.

I go to Disneyland a lot and I draw and color things.

Yeah. That’s more like it.

Go here! Look at the bottom of the page. click on the pictures to see some stuff I made for Disneyland.

Then go here! Read my official Disneyland biography.

Thanks for following directions so well. You will go far in life, I can tell.

02
Jun
09

Space Base 8 Is UP!!!

That’s right, I could not wait any longer. Now that I have two months worth of strips done, I have started posting. I was gonna wait another week until I got the site looking better, but I wanted to do a test upload of my comic art, and one thing led to another, and I posted some comics. Soooo…

Go to spacebase8.com. Read the comics. Ignore the infant-stage website design. Enjoy the comics!.

As I write this in the wee hours of June 2, there are two strips posted. June 1, 2009 is the official first posting date of my comic, Space Base 8. June started on a Monday, so I thought it would be a nice, clean starting point for my weekdaily strip to start on the first of the month, on a Monday.

Wow, I did it. I started posting my comic. I have been wanting to do this for years. Whew!

Yay!

01
Jun
09

Distractions!

Oh no! too many ideas! what will I ever do? I am constantly distracted from paying attention to my newest baby webcomic, Space Base 8! I keep getting ideas for other projects…

Like this one! They are a bunch of kids, see, and they are cute, see, and I like Harvey comics like Hot Stuff and Richie Rich, see? So I wanna draw some kids in a a style inspired by Harvey’s style, and they are gonna look like this, see?

spinnerrackpack1 and then there is this one, too…

sassy1…and this little girl seems to be exploring something spooky, a la X-Files or Nancy Drew…

spooky1Oh sure, I spent all of yesterday drawing these kids instead of working on Space Base 8. Oh sure, now I am two days behind schedule. Oh sure, I want to start posting Space Base 8 in about a week or so…

But aren’t these kids cute? Don’t you want to see their adventures? So do I. I can’t wait to create those adventures for them. Someday.