Alright, sorry but there won’t be a new comic today. It’ll be posted on Monday.
The next few are pretty complicated, drawing-wise, and I’m still learning to budget my time with this new format. I could probably finish the next one and have it posted later today, but I don’t think I’m going to finish it and also do three more for next week quickly enough, so I’m just going to wait and try to have them be posted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week, so they go up early on those days and in some kind of regular fashion.
What I should learn about budgeting my time is that, no matter how long I expect a comic to take, it will always take longer. of course, there’s no way to budget for that, because if I allow more time, that means it will take more time. I posted the “Updates Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday” thing on the banner at the top a few weeks ago with the idea that it would shame me into making sure I got things posted regularly, and so far it’s kind of been working, but some of these comics are just always going to take longer than expected, and I’d rather have them finished to my satisfaction than rush and post them prematurely. So, anyway, we’ll be back on schedule on Monday.
I feel the need to keep clarifying that these strips are a part on an ongoing story, in case there’s any confusion, because the content of this strip is meant to lead directly into the next one. I guess I’m still wondering if it’s working both ways, as strips and as an ongoing narrative, so I question whether it works on its own without the strip following it. But, they’re designed to work both ways, and that’s the balance that I’m working on, and so far it seems to be pretty successful. I wondered about the last strip, because there’s the whole thing in there about flies living a day when they actually live longer than that, and I was going to address that that was part of the point, but not until the next strip. Nobody questioned it, though, and people seem to have liked the last strip, so I’m probably too concerned about things not coming across.
I think it’s actually more an issue of the fact that I’m writing these strips and dozens afterwards and outlining for storylines that are going to take me years, so I start to question how an individual strip is working because I know it’s meant to be part of all these things I’m thinking about that I haven’t finished yet. But that’s how anything you read works, right? You don’t know what’s coming next until you get there. So, I should probably stop over explaining stuff and trust that it’s working as I mean it to, but then again I say that every time I go on a binge of over explaining.
For this strip, I figured that since in all my comics I make a point of showing sex when I talk about it, and not shying away from sex or treating it differently than other topics, I should extend that same practice to fly sex. So, you guys all get to see fly sex today. I realized that I was inking that I had kind of messed up a couple details of how fly missionary position works, but I liked how the drawing was working so I kept it. In actuality, it seems like the way the male fly holds the female fly (Or, of course, the submissive twink boy bitch fly) is a little different than this, but the general poses are the same. I had an interesting time looking up fly sex photo reference to do this strip, but when I draw things like this I want them to be accurate. When I was drawing it, I started to wonder how these two flies felt about having their sex pictures out all over the internet. You would think they would have learned from all the other celebrity fly sex scandals that, when you take these pictures, there’s a good chance somebody will find them.
So this fly story is gonna go for a few more strips. It’s the heart of the reason why I wanted to start with a storyline about the rabbit as a child, to kind of set up where his mind is on these issues, and the fly story seemed like a good metaphor. The strips that follow are going to be about the relationships between art and money, and money and time, and stasis vs. growth and all that, all those big themes I like to play with to make myself feel important.
The whole childhood storyline is going to be a total of about fifteen strips, and then when we’re back in the present the storyline is, for a while, actually mostly going to deal with Rickets, Prester, and Capitalist Pig. They’re all sort of metaphors for different parts of my personality or things I’m interested in, so showing a bit about how the rabbit feels about those things and how they relate is meant to set the stage for what goes down with them. As I get more into the lives of characters who represent different things in my imagination, the strips are actually going to get more into the realm of fantasy, and become more of an adventure story, rather than me just musing on things, so starting off with something that’s pretty much strictly autobiographical also seemed like a good way to frame it.
I’m going to do some more Douchebags of Comics stuff, too, as the storyline allows, but it’s going to be arranged to an extent to go with what the characters are talking about in the strip. The different people that I want to talk about or send up are people that represent different parts of the spectrum in the relationships between art and commerce, and there are reasons I want to go into them or feel that I have something to say that are related to the storyline. There’s the fun element of making a set of trading cards and all that, and of course the fact that I enjoy giving myself a soapbox, but there’s also more going on there.
It was kind of initially meant to be a tangent or a lark related to the main storylines and as a way for me to do some portrait drawings that I thought would be fun, but I guess there was something about me posting a list of names for people that I was considering making cards of, or planning to make cards of, that intrigued certain people and set them off about it. I’m glad that the whole thing has been interesting to people, of course, and if they didn’t go off half-cocked and spout off about things that they didn’t actually yet know much about, I guess they wouldn’t be comics fans.
But all I’ve done so far, people, is post a list of names and do three drawings with blogs attached. Eventually, I hope anyway, there’s going to be a lot more to it than that.
Somebody asked yesterday how old I’m supposed to be in these strips I’m posting right now, and I said late elementary school, maybe fifth grade. Then I realized I was dating the Wookie Vs. Ninja Turtles story in this one ’89, which seemed to be about when Ninja Turtles were starting to be a major thing, and in ’89 I would have been around second grade. Ninja Turtles really peaked around ’90 or ’91, but what can I say, I was always ahead of the times.
The memories in these last few strips take place in different times around my childhood, I’m not sure when my teachers would have thought I had ADD, but as I think about it maybe that was closer to second grade than fifth. All the memories from these few strips take place within a few years for me, and maybe I said fifth grade because second grade seemed too young for me to be obsessing over these things, but as I go over it in my head, second grade seems more accurate.
The teacher in this strip isn’t actually a portrait of one particular teacher. The name was a teachery-name that popped into my head, and I think I did have a teacher with that name in elementary school, but I didn’t have any photos of her. The way the teacher looks is mostly based on photos of another teacher from a High School year book of mine, mostly picked because she had the most teachery glasses I could find. It doesn’t actually look much like that other teacher in the face, I was kind of going for a generic teachery look.
I wasn’t actually present for the discussion about me having ADD, so that part is partly imagination and partly based on things my mom told me about it later on. You’ll see my mom’s reaction in the next strip coming up.
I remember when I was little what if I thought I was right about something I would argue about it like a lawyer.
Once, my dad told me I was grounded, and I told him that, no, actually I wasn’t. He asked me how I figured that I wasn’t, and I remember methodically explaining to him that society only gives parents the power to ground their children because parents disciplining children is meant to teach them something but, since he was grounding me for a reason I thought was stupid, I wasn’t going to learn anything from being grounded, therefor he didn’t have any legal basis on which to ground me.
Needless to say, I stayed grounded.
I was young, so there might have been some holes in my logic, but I’m kind of proud of the fact that I would argue my case if I thought I had one. Probably made parenting me a little bit infuriating sometimes, though.
The start of a story about my childhood. Aw, isn’t the little rabbit adorable?
This is all pretty true stuff. It gets more detailed as the story goes on, but I was a pretty anxious kid. This storyline is going to kind of examine the roots of my obsession with time, which probably ties into why I named all these comics A Waste of Time to begin with.
I wanted to stay pretty true to my childhood, so I’ve been doing some research for photo reference. I’ve got to give a shout-out to Goggle Maps, because I didn’t have any pictures of the front of my childhood house and so I didn’t know how I would draw it, but then it occurred to me to go on Goggle Maps. I remembered the street name, I zoomed in and used their street view, and there it was. Likewise, I was able to find pictures of the exact type of bus that my school used to have. I was looking through pictures of bus interiors, and when I saw the seats in this one picture, it gave me total flashbacks. I could remember exactly what the vinyl fabric felt like. In the drawing I’ve done, you can’t see the fabric texture of course, but the shape of the windows and all that, those are accurate to the bus. Also, in the last panel, I found a picture of the exact dinosaur sheets I used to sleep in when I was little. Those were some rocking sheets.
As I’m using more photo reference and things, the drawing style is evolving, and actually getting closer to what I’ve always wanted it to be. Over the years I’ve been doing these comics, I’ve picked up a lot of things, and now I feel like I can finally start to make them look more like I want. In the beginning I was kind of priding myself on a rough, handmade indie comics look, and that worked some of the time, but it was also because I didn’t know how to do some more technical things. The idea from the beginning was that the rabbit should be a cartoon character in a more realistic world, and that the humans around him should be drawn more realistically. Of course, in a lot of the comics the rabbit is talking with my cast of other characters who are also cartoons, so there hasn’t quite been a need for that sharp contrast. With these upcoming stories, the settings are going to be more and more important, so I’ve been trying to do a better job of creating that dichotomy.
I’m starting to do my cartoon characters with a brush, which I experimented with before, to make them look a little more “cartoony.” The main time I used a brush before was for the Marching to “The City” storyline, and there I was doing a very rough look. For how I want the characters to look now, I’m thinking of a more Jeff Smith look, with those sort of very beautiful, strong thick-to-thin lines, because I think that will offset the characters from their environments. Jeff Smith is obviously a lot better at it than me, but I think if you look over the last few comics you can kind of see me feeling around, and by this comic I think the rabbit is looking more like I want him to.
To offset that more, I’m trying to do the backgrounds more and more realistic and detailed. A great example of that, of course, would be the work between Dave Sim and Gerhard in Cerebus, where there was this cartoon aardvark drawn by Sim against these elaborate architectural backgrounds drawn by Gerhard. I’ve been reading some of Cerebus to wind up for doing portraits of Dave Sim, so seeing the backgrounds has been giving me ideas. I read an interview with Gerhard where he was talking about the pens he used, and he said he uses Micron pens for the lines. I’ve been wanting to fool around with those for a while, so I thought, hey, this was a great opportunity.
I tried to use Rapidograph pens a while ago to do more consistent lines on things that I wanted to look a little more structured, but Rapidograph pens are a pain in the ass to clean and maintain, and they’re way too expensive, and I didn’t think the lines looked all that much better than what you could do with Micron pens and things like that. When I was in an art store a couple of years ago asking about Rapidograph ink, I said something to the employee there about how it was hard to find Rapidograph ink, and he kind of laughed and said, “Well, that’s because nobody *uses* Rapidograph pens anymore.” That kind of cinched it, and I decided I was over the Rapidograph pens. Then recently when I was marveling over the detailed technical drawings that Gerhard can do and wondering what he used, reading him say that he used Micron pens, which cost about two dollars each, that convinced me that I had been right to ditch the Rapidographs.
I don’t want my backgrounds to completely become a poor man’s Gerhard impersonation, though. I still want them to fit in somewhat with the more cartoony characters that I draw, and one of the rules I set for myself a long time ago is that I don’t use a ruler when I’m inking. I’ll use a ruler when I’m penciling, but I don’t want my inks to look that stiff, so I don’t use them then. To kind of make it a mid-point between more detailed backgrounds and more cartoony characters, I’m trying to do the outlines in the background with a crow quill Hunt 102 nib, and then use the microns for the details and the lines I want to look more consistent. For the human characters in my comics and for a lot of my portrait drawings recently, I’ve been using a Hunt 108, because it’s much springier than a 102 and I can get more graceful thick to thin lines with it.
The trick that I’m working on is to try to integrate the different kinds of lines created by these different types of pens and brushes and make it look cohesive and attractive. That’s one reason for not using a ruler when I’m inking the backgrounds, because I’m trying to find a midpoint between the Micron lines in the background and the brush lines I’m trying to do on the rabbit and my cartoon characters.
Anyway, that’s kind of my master plan for how I’m going to be drawing these upcoming comics. I figured I’d blog about it for anybody that’s curious, because, personally, I salivate over reading artists talking about how they draw, and I always want them to mention exactly what types of supplies they use so I can check it out and try it. So, maybe some people found that useful. Or, if you’re not interested in a long discussion about the types of pens I use, hopefully you just skipped it :)
This is supposed to be the first strip of Chapter One of Damaged Goods, and it’s meant to set the stage of the ruminations that the rabbit has been going over to bring him to the point of the storyline coming up. The comics coming next will be a little bit less “strips” in that they’re meant to lead directly into one another and be read in order. I’m setting up a bit of the mental state of my characters to frame the drama that’s going to come up afterwards, so hopefully the strips can kind of be read on their own, but I’m doing less stand-alone things and more building up, so hopefully that will pay off. The strips have always been meant to have a bit of groundwork-laying going on, so I’m excited to be showing more and more of what I’ve been planning.
Sorry for posting this later in the day, I’ve spent a lot of the last couple hours on a Chuck Dixon messageboard responding to comments about my Douchebags of Comics cards. Heh. Chuck Dixon fans seem pretty reasonable, though, and my experience is continuing to be that once I engage people about the cards and talk to them about it, they get what I’m doing, so that’s a good sign.
New comic on Friday.
There’s been a lot of talk over the last few days about my Douchebags of Comics trading card series. If it gets people talking about these things, that’s exactly what I want, and I’m having a lot of fun hearing people’s explanations of why they think so-and-so deserves a card. I’ve loved getting private messages with people saying, “You didn’t hear it from me, but…” and then telling me a story about something Dave Sim or somebody did to them at a convention. I think everybody knows somebody they think is a douchebag, and the comics industry seems to harbor an extraordinary number of them.
One thing I need to stress, though, is that who does and doesn’t get a card ultimately comes down to my opinion. I love hearing everybody’s input and that’s one of the main reasons for me to do this project, but if I’m going to do a card of somebody and call them a douchebag, I’m the one that has to stand by that, so I need to feel like I have a good reason. Obviously there’s not scientific objective criteria for whether or not a particular person is a douchebag, although I think most people who I’ve been talking to about this project are on the same page about what the different meanings for the word are, but obviously it comes down to opinion. I’ve been given some great suggestions for people to get cards that I didn’t consider on my own, and I’ve also almost been talked out of giving cards to a couple people based on some persuasive arguments, so I’m listening and having a great time hearing what people think about it.
One thing a few people have suggested is that I give myself a card. Obviously, some of them are trying to be funny and calling me a douche. Actually, I’ve been planning for a while to give myself a card. To be a cartoonist who is spending this amount of effort to discuss other cartoonists that he considers douchebags is, in and of itself, somewhat douchey, and I’m aware of that fact. It’s part of the whole joke of the thing. Most people seem to be getting the spirit that these cards are being done in, and that there are all sorts of different reasons that somebody could be considered a douche, but just to be clear about it I’ve added myself to the official list of people receiving cards.
As I go on with posting the ongoing storyline of my comics, I’m not going to post a Douchebags of Comics card illustration in between comic strips that are supposed to go together in sequence, but I’m still going to be working on both things, so I’ve made a page which you can click to from the bar at the top of this website that will feature the updated list of people being considered for cards, and also links to the latest blogs and illustrations and etc. related to the set. Also, at the top of any blog on this website where I’m talking about the Douchebags of Comics cards, you can go to the top of that blog, click on the category link that says Douchebags of Comics, and it will take you to a list of all the posts that I’ve categorized that way.
Anyway, with all the talking about it in the last few days, there have been several additions to the list, so here’s the latest list of possibilities:
Already have illustrations for cards:
Definitely receiving cards:
J. Michael Straczynski
J. Scott Campbell
Ethan Van Sciver
Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson
I don’t know how much I should spell this out, because if you know the film I’m referencing, it’s a pretty obvious reference, and if you don’t hopefully it just works as a title on its own.
The reference is to Godard’s 1966 film Masculin Féminin, and in that film there are intertitles between the “chapters” of the film, the most famous one saying, “The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola,” or, in French, “Les Enfants de Marx et de Coca-Cola.” The film was about the French youth of the time, and I take the “Marx and Coca-Cola” thing to be his commentary on being anti-capitalist, but also intrinsically part of a consumer culture. The film seems extremely applicable to what’s going on now with anti-capitalist sentiments in general and Lady Gaga, I think, is a good example of some of the differences in the culture between now and the time the film was made. There are a lot of other reasons that Marx and Lady Gaga are pertinent to the story I’m writing coming up talking about art and capitalism, and a lot of other related topics, so this seemed like the perfect title for a whole bunch of reasons. Check back on Wednesday for the first comic strip of chapter one :)