Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A night for hero worship

Today the latest Peanuts collection reached my mailbox. I was really excited for this one, as the strip had finally reached the 80's - meaning I would get to see the strip that ran on my birthday. That's it, up above. It's not an iconic one, but it's mine. (The strip that followed was the one chosen to represent the entire book on the back cover! I missed it by one day! Dang it, Sparky! My birthday was a Monday - you always lead with the best strips on Monday!)

Even though his bite was wasn't always as strong by the 80's, Schulz was still able to knock it out of the park. As I read through this collection, I keep hitting strips that make me laugh and think. In one, Peppermint Patty is happy to be at a library. When asked what book she'd like, she isn't sure, finally asking for a blue one. That hit me because it's exactly how I felt when visiting libraries as a kid. I had no idea what book I wanted, so I'd wander around and grab a book with a pretty binding. I never knew what I was looking for, so no sorting system could help me find it. Eventually I did figure out what I wanted from the library: I found the shelf with a bunch of Peanuts collections.

I'd love to read all four years' worth of material tonight, but I've got to make comics of my own now!

Living the dream!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More commission catch-up

Today's goal was to put finishing touches on all the paintings I have here, since they need to be shipped soon. I got the big one touched up enough that I'm ready to part with it. The little ones are still in the process of being fixed. They are years old, and were not created with the care I use now. The Bud and Dionne little ones still need lots of work. The Tiffany one, fortunately, only needs the background redone. (I want to keep the red to blue to white effect, but we'll see how it ends up.) I still have a few hours to finish these off!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Struggling with commissions

I haven't been the most professional artist of late, and that kills me. I've abused the kindness of some clients who gave me no deadlines for work, and the weeks have flown by with little progress due to business stuff, illnesses and general burnout. Mix in some temperamental artist antics and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Over the next few weeks, my goal is to wrap up all the loose ends I have so I can finally move on to new projects. Up first: A commission that's been driving me batty.

The theme here is to expand on the newscaster from strip #822 and show the kids invading his studio. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to compose that image, and it sat around in its early stages for far too long. So I'm throwing it out and starting over!

This sketch was based off the old idea, where the newscaster was freaking out at his desk as the world around him erupted into chaos. In this attempt, I threw all the kids at the news desk, with the regular anchors bound and gagged in the background. It's rather static and boring, so I tried to think of ways to increase the action.

The new idea was to have the guy dragged away from his news desk. I like this dynamic a lot more, but now I'm struggling to figure out what exactly goes on in the background. In this sketch, I'm still clinging to the idea of Autumn taking over as the anchor. It amuses me. Not shown is an idea to have Tiffany take over as weather girl. I like both ideas, but there's only so much background space to go around... and me zooming out would both minimize the characters and double my work as I'd spend all my time drawing difficult background elements that would add nothing to the piece.

The easy solution would be expand to a larger paper size, but that's not the piece that was paid for, and it would cause a lot more pain in shipping to the UK. Plus, a larger piece would extend the client's wait even longer.

I need to make myself use space better instead. If I want Autumn at the desk, I have to fight perspective to make it look right, or fudge it a bit. In the above sketch, the news desk is curved in the wrong direction. It's one of those odd situations where wrong looks more right than right, since the incorrect curve helps move the eye around the piece. I'll likely face similar issues with the backdrop to the news desk if I keep this perspective. I could always turn the desk and the background more towards the viewer, but that would confuse the direction of the kids dragging off anchorman. Ugh. Why can I not lay this out properly? And this is all without factoring in Tiffany's location! With what I have now, I only see two viable options: Have her climbing the sets in the background or her have atop a camera rig.

So, yeah, back to the drawing board for me. I hate hate that time keeps ticking by with this, but I want to make sure I get it right!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Organization is awesome!

Wish someone had told me that sooner.

In order to put together the book, I must first sort through my big bin of strips to find the comics I need to rescan. Best way to do that? Organize it all! Ye gods...

What you see on my drafting table (currently converted to a much lamer regular table) is not even one third of the strips I have to sort. Every pile represents a break in continuity in which the connection strips haven't been located yet. The most unnerving gaps are those of single missing strips. (Where are you, #593 and #386?) Chunks I know got shuffled away and should all be together, but the loners? Who knows?

So now... what do I do? I've run out of space to stack my strips! This tiny apartment doesn't have much in the way of surfaces. I guess I have to flip through the bin in hopes of finding the missing links... or start stacking on the floor. All I know is I need to get this done today. Which means back to work!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

I am trying to melt your heart

The SpiderForest community will soon be holding an auction of digital prints and traditional pieces, with proceeds going to help a member in need. These watercolors will be my contribution. I went for maximum sweetness with these pieces, with hopes of drawing in more bids. This is charity! I want to make an impact! I hope these do well.

When the auctions begin, I'll put up an announcement on the Precocious main page.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vote for me!

While we wait for my website to come back (I don't know what's up with SpiderForest), how about heading over to Code Name: Hunter site and voting for my entry in the art contest!

Back to the site outage stuff. I will be very upset if this down time goes beyond midnight, as I have yet to upload tomorrow's request week strip. So if you check the Precocious site in the morning and see no comic, that's why.

Also, I'm still taking suggestions for request week. I'll entertain ideas until all seven strips are made.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Request week?

(Edit: Just to clarify, I'm looking for ideas for single strips, no whole arcs. Keep your suggestions simple! If you need more than seven words to say it, it's too complex!)

First off, I am still looking for guest strip help. Response has been rather underwhelming and it's clear I will fall far short of my goal with the current deadline. Some great people have contributed and volunteered so far, and I refuse to give up on this because their work should be put on display! I am extending the entry deadline for another week in hopes enough people will be worn down by my pathetic cries to get me the strips I need.

Of course, this now means I need some scripts for next week. The days of me having a buffer and being scripted ahead are gone. The next big arc is still in its infant stages of development, so that can't go yet. It's me playing around week for week, and I haven't been much in the mood for playing. I'm fighting a bad case of burn-out, which is joyfully timed with a large increase in my work load. If I can't get my week off yet, I'm looking for a way to jump start my stalled mind.

So, hey, if I can't get the comics community at large to listen to MY requests, why not turn it around? I will listen to YOUR requests! This could be fun! Since I have no scripts for next week's comics, I'm asking for your assistance. Give me some simple ideas to help get my brain back into creative mode!

What I'm talking about are scenarios, such as, "What if Tiffany finds a crossbow?" or "What happens when Jacob finally snaps?" Ideas that can be summed up in seven words or less. This is a creative challenge for me not, not an excuse for you to make me draw up your fanfics. Keep it simple and don't go beyond a set-up. Leave the context and punchlines for me. If you want more control - MAKE A GUEST COMIC! I really need those things! (If you can't draw, go hire/blackmail an artist! And artist that isn't me, that is.)

Give me as many premises as you'd like! I hope to get a lot so I can pick and choose. Be fun! Be creative! To submit an idea, comment on this post. Heck, I'll take entries wherever they appear, be it email, shoutbox, comic comments or forum thread. I just want to see some participation!

(By the way, if you all let me down I am not above faking it. Those two example ideas I wrote above have already spawned comics in my mind!)