Monday, April 29, 2013

Continuing charm/button work

No new finals to show off, but here's a new wave of sketches for the book two preorder Kickstarter rewards! Enjoy the sketches, and my musing on said sketches.

Above are some button designs for the kids who haven't been buttoned yet. Kaitlyn and Max are hard, because their personalities are hard to distill into a single button-sized quip.  The sweet "Friend?" for Max is the best bet for him. It's cute and useful even to non-readers. Kaitlyn's both require Precocious knowledge, but they're interesting designs.

Yvette, being silent, is hard to tackle, so I tried a sketch where she's be peeking into the button frame. Not sure I can pull it off, as the space needed to show all important Yvette features might be too much for the peeking idea. It would work better if her hands were up, holding onto the border - but that is not how button-making works.

I have said I'm only including three buttons with each Cupcake of Bliss (plus a special one), but I guess I could make a pile of buttons and just give a random three in each gift box. No, I cannot simply give people more buttons this time around. The same total amount of buttons would be produced, regardless of the number of designs used, as I'm hiring someone to make these and I have to stay within budget.

Here are some charm ideas. Instead of putting in the labels, as with the first designs (see below), I'm going to simplify things. Charms are only 1.5" in size, after all.

For the finals, I will draw full figures, then crop them to a circle.  Only Vincent is poofy enough to possibly fit his whole body into a circle - but I played with poses that would cut his legs off too. SOLIDARITY! The premise for the most-sketched pose was that Vincent was facing the wrong way and just noticed - possibly paired with Tiffany being upside down on the opposite side? Not sure it'll work, but worth a shot.

Since I rejected the design of Kaitlyn showing off a sketch, I went back to the On-Cue Ball pose again. What can I say? It's a good one.  Yvette's charm sketch was also simplified. A bunch of small dolls would be too tiny on the charm, so again I went back to an old standard of her and doll-Kaitlyn.

And here I drew Autumn holding something with text, knowing that wouldn't work. I wanted to keep the theme of having everyone with an accessory. The book may stay, but text will be gone or very simple. (Like changing "BLACKMAIL" to "INFO" on the first Autumn charm.)

Tiffany and Quincy both got alternate designs here. Wizard Quincy will probably still win out, but shovel Tiffany could supplant artist Tiffany in the end.

Might as well include the first sketches here too, making this a master post. Here are the original designs. Some will win (ice cream Jacob is definitely in, and both Quincy and Autumn's first designs are solid) and some will be replaced or redrawn.  (Roddy and Dionne won't get a double-sided charm, by the way. I drew them for fun.)

For the sake of completion, here's some inks I recently posted:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

More doll temptation!

The Autumn and Jacob dolls have been designed, completing the set!

You can get a doll through the Cupcake of Bliss package in the Precocious Book 2 preorder Kickstarter campaign. Since I have to hire someone to make these for me, once I place my final order, that will be it for a while. Anyone aching for a doll - or possibly a set, which is not currently being offered but could be - will need to grab a Kickstarter package (you can select a tier or add one on to your tier, as explained in the post below) or contact me and let me know.

And, for good measure, the Bud and Tiffany dolls that were previously shown off:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Button ideas + Kickstarter info

Here are some button ideas that should eventually populate the Cupcakes of Bliss gift box, available through the Book 2 preorder on Kickstarter. I can still play around with ideas, but the current plan is three regular buttons and one papercraft button (probably of Tiffany). By the way, the red outlines and green circle on Quincy are guidelines on the template and won't be on the actual buttons.

And here's a reminder: While some items will be available in the upcoming Precocious store after the preorder ends, others will not. The Cupcakes of Bliss will be very limited once the campaign ends. (Well, they will become convention-only Precocious swag grab bags of random goodies, as opposed to gift boxes that always contain a doll and the button set.) Dolls, the new buttons and the "Two Sides of the Same Coin" charms will be scarce once the Kickstarter ends. Once they sell out, they might not return to the store for a long time. I will have a photo of Autumn and Jacob dolls soon! The prototypes are being worked on! By the way, all Cupcakes of Bliss will ship late August, as that's when I'm meeting with Duae Cat designs to pick up the dolls.

If you are part of the Kickstarter already and want to upgrade, you can do it via add-on. This means you add the total for the item to your pledge (plus shipping, if your're international), then let me know about the add-on when I send out backer surveys once the campaign ends. (You should always review the tiers first, to see if the option you want is available. You can also message me to asking about creating new tiers, or confirming the add-on is ok.)

Add-on options are:
$22 - One extra book. (International orders add $10 for shipping costs)
$30 - Cupcake of Bliss gift box. (International customers add $10 for shipping costs)
$16 - Complete the 'Two Sides' charm set. (Option only for those with an artist edition. International orders add $5 for shipping costs)
$5 - A sketched Precocious cast postcard. (All orders over $80 will get one for free. No extra international shipping charge.)
(If I told you a different international shipping cost add-on earlier, you don't have to update your cost. That was my bad math and I'll take the hit for it.)

If you are not part of the Kickstarter campaign for whatever reason, you need to email me with your requests so I can factor them in to my orders. Even if you've already informed me, a reminder at the end of the campaign will be handy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Continuing charm designs

I'll do an official Kickstarter update when I have more ready, but here's some work on the charms offered in the artist editions for the Precocious book two preorder campaign.

These will end up in a circular template, so parts of the bodies will be cropped. I'll likely redo the Kaitlyn one to simplify it. Charms are small, so I must be careful with details. But that's why we do these intermediate stages. Learning! Also, I'm having fun with poofing tails. I recently drew a comic panel with Bud's tail swishing up into frame and I thought it was adorable, so let's do it more! (You'll see that comic in a few weeks.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Little Precocious

Someone wrote me and asked if I ever drew the Precocious kids as My Little Ponies. I have indeed, but it was loooooooong ago. I think this was my first ever attempt at the pony style, and it wasn't that good. (Not that I got much better, as I've never really practiced drawing ponies.)

These were vote incentives over two years ago, so enough time has passed to share them.

Maybe I'll have to update this idea. (Maybe something along these lines was already in motion...)

For the record: Eye color for the ponies came from outfits, not their Precocious canon eye color.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Copper Road! 4/18/13

Vote here to see the new comic! This one goes out to creative types! WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE!

For now, Copper Road remains a "when I can" thing, and this week I can! I'm still fighting the medical demons, but I hoping to keep Copper Road going, but Precocious will always come first. (And it's going fine on that front. Fear not!)

I did set the new stretch goals for the book two Kickstarter campaign to include levels where Copper Road evolves into a real, regular comic! If you want it, come and claim it! We're still a long way from hitting those marks, but I have faith! I know you all must be getting annoyed by me pushing it so hard, but it means so much to me. This is not a "profit" campaign. It's funding my ability to continue doing business. Aside from the one stretch goal I devoted to me, everything's going to keep the Precociousverse thriving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The bonus art up for grabs

I took photos of the original art that is for sale in the Precocious book 2 preorder Kickstarter campaign, so you all have better references.

Above is the Precocious deleted scene original, showing another Tiffany dessert disaster, that is offered in the original strips tier. It got a promotion to official comic continuity in the book!

Below are the ten original art pages offered in the bonus art tiers.

A - Accusing Roddy, Princess Yvette and Queen Suzette, Swing Vote Max

B - TV listings, Broken Ivy, Jacob and Bud playing

C - Concerned Vincent, Showboat Dionne, #1 Tiffany, Sweetheart Autumn

D - Stolen Laptop, Snow Jacob, Sad Frida

E - Protest Sign, Tiff and Chainsaw, Xander's Revenge

F - Muffin of Failure, Bug on Nose, Wizard Quincy, Frustrated Kaitlyn

G - Tiff and Shovel, Candidate Roddy, Captain Fireball

H - Oven Family Portraits

I - Suzette and Minion, Baking Success, Paranoia Flakes

J - The Outliers, The Standalone, The Hired Guns (Back cover art!)

K - Public Speaking Yvette, Max and Cookies, Sleeping Joseph (I didn't like this one, so it's not part of the offering, but here it is!)

There's a heck of a lot being offered in the campaign right now, as well as more temptations to be unlocked via stretch goals. Check it out and give in to the indulgence!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Two sides of the same coin

Here are early sketches for the special double-sided charms that will be part of the artist editions. I'll try alternate poses and see what happens, but you can see the theme here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Table gifts are the best!

One of the joys about doing cons is the face-to-face interaction. I have a great time meeting readers, and then having the tables turned on me as I get to meet creators I adore and do the awkward geek-out thing! I especially love if when I get cool gifts, because I'm such a small-timer that such events are extremely rare. The best all these things happend while I was at Fur the More this past weekend, when I got a wonderful surprise of meeting Ahmeh Fahim, of the adorable comic, Silent Pirate! I didn't know he was in the area, so this was quite cool!

As well as a fun creator meeting, he brought me the original art for the amazing guest strip he did for Precocious. Ahh, if I only I had known, I would have given him the original for the guest art I did for him! (Note how he expertly blends his style and makes the Precociousverse his own - while mine simply looks like he was drunk when drawing one of his comics? He wins.)

With any luck, I can even things up by handing over my contribution at a late time, as he can be my Intervention con booth babe!

He got to go on his way with the second-to-last Precocious book one from the initial print run, and the last artist edition of that group! Silent Pirate Yvette! More shame: It wasn't until I was inking that I realized I was using the original headgear instead of the new, costume change beanie. It's not like I had read all the comic, done art of the comic before, or HAD THE REFERENCE IN THE GUEST COMIC PAGES SITTING IN FRONT OF ME or anything. *facepalm* I also totally butchered the ship. Embarrassing! Hey, it's still better than the standard convention cartoonist meet up: "Oh man, I love you work! ...but I'm two years behind in reading it." "Yeah, same here." (No one feels bad about it. We all know the rigors of cartooning.)

Oh, for the record: My preferred table gift is gummi fizzy cola bottles. (Well, assuming I can chew again by the next con.) Even better gift: Money.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Crazy times, but amazing times!

If you've been paying attention, you know things haven't exactly been smooth for me lately. My ever-escalating illness was making it harder and harder to work, and bad medical advice only made things worse. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and it was highly stressful. I was giving more than my body could take, and trying not to let that strain bleed too much into the comics.

It didn't work. People complained and I couldn't do much to fight back. (I don't blame the complainers at all - eveb uf I don't agree with their assessments. I've spoiled you guys for years, so any lapse seems like a betrayal at this point.) After tearful pleas, I finally got my doctor to write me a new prescription for painkillers. Those drugs did more to help me that the months (and thousands of dollars) spent on treatment did.  They weren't a solution by any means, but they bought me 10 days of being able to function at a semi-normal level. I used that time to its full potential, grinding out 16-hour work days so I could get everything perfect. It was not ideal, but I had set up my files to make success possible.

Still, having only this small window during a long illness meant weird timing.  My buffer had run out and I was already through my emergency scripts. I had my work done, and it was ready to get the Kickstarter going. I took the scripts I had and planned out some meta jokes (that, of course, drew even more complaints) that would tie it all together in retrospect. I submitted my campaign, but time had run out. I had to begin the promo week even though the campaign wasn't approved yet.  (And I will NEVER regret the promo week tradition. I am a very small comic, and this is my livelihood! If it's cute and funny and helps, it's the right thing to do.)

It was all in motion. There was no going back.  The plan, before all the sickness improvising, was to lead with the "It's Alive!" comic and do a standard promotion.  Editing turned it into a preview week, and that was cool too. I would simply run the "It's Alive!" comic when the campaign was approved! (Well, I quickly realized that wouldn't work, as the week delay meant I'd be opening up my preorder while I was traveling to a convention and away from my computer. Timing, in accordance with the recent trend, was destroying all my planned cleverness.)  But then I got nervous. Kickstarter only says "a few days" - and so I asked some other friends who did Kickstarters how long it took them.  "It took over a week for me.  I've heard it go up to two weeks before."  WHAT!? That is not a "few" days! What have I done to myself now? The complaints would be deafening, and right when I needed support the most. All the sacrifices I'd made - all the good will I had tried to build up over the years - I was about to throw it away. It's a sad reality.  Make 1500 comics someone enjoys?  That's great. Make one comic they don't, and that's all it takes for them to delete the bookmark. Such is the nature of the beast.

So it was time to improvise again! I drew up this alternate comic, just in case Kickstarter was dragging its heels. The "We now return to your regular programming, already in progress" joke would still have followed, but it would have been more an admission of failure than a clever joke. (More complaints! People love complaining.) Fortunately, Kickstarter was on time and I got my approval Thursday night. I was finally able to set things up and know I was covered.

It wasn't pretty, and it took a lot of grief and pain in the process, but that's how life goes sometimes. Behind the scenes, I put my all into this stuff, and I made sure I had everything PERFECT. I put my priorities in the right places, and it was just bad timing that resulted in poor optics. I had the plans in place, but I was simply so ill I couldn't do anything about those plans. I don't regret the comics I made, just the order they were presented in. I can't regret not keeping people up to date on my suffering, because it wouldn't have changed anything - and I had no idea it would continue getting worse until after it had already happened. The doctors blew the diagnosis, and why wouldn't I have trusted them?

It was tough, but I got through it, and it's all be amazing so far. The Kickstarter is going great - c'mon, folks, let's get those artist collaborations unlocked! - and good will is returning.  It's been a crazy, rough road getting here, but things are looking good again!

I'm in no way recovering yet. The meds are gone, and I'm back to getting the full brunt of pain again. It'll be a while before I can see the best doctors, who will hopefully get me on the path to recover, as they're in demand, but at least I don't have multiple major projects going on as this happens.  I can keep the comic moving with the few good hours I have - maybe even tossing in the occasional Copper Road.  Things are still tenuous, and any setback longer than a week puts me back in scramble mode, but I have hope. I'll beat this, and I'll be able to thrive again.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Copper Road! 4/11/13

It's back! Sorry for the delay. It's been a rough stretch with my ongoing facesplosion stuff - and all the work on a certain BOOK TWO PREORDER CAMPAIGN that's rather important - but there is hope for the future and I'm trying to pull things back to the good old normal.

Vote here to see the new Copper Road comic! This is definitely one that was ripped directly from real life. I don't understand if it's just one local one, or an improvement campaign across the country that happened while I was in Savannah (and not near one), but dang! Now I'm gonna eat more fast food. Curse you, beautiful server!

Want to keep Copper Road moving along?  I can always add a new stretch goal incentive to the Kickstarter campaign that would make it a real comic with a regular update schedule.  (While I've aimed for weekly, Copper Road has always been a "when I feel like it" thing.) And have you checked the stretch goals? So much goodness is about to be unlocked! A reminder: These goals aren't just an indulgence. This campaign will dictate my business approach for the rest of the year. Even though I've passed by the initial goal, I'm still only paying off bills at this point.

Yes, I have to boost the preorder in every news post. It's the culmination of a year's work, and rather important to me! I am so thankful to all who have helped out so far, be it through pledges or through sharing the preorder. Helping out here helps out the community and gives me hope that I can keep this going! We're not close to done yet! Let's be awesome!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The glory of stretch goals!

Enjoy this preview of what could come if the Precocious book two Kickstarter campaign hits $5000!  (Thanks to Duae Cat Designs!)

Edit: Poster designs will happen too around this level. Sketches and ideas will begin once we hit it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book 2 Preorder is a GO!

Here we go, folks! The book 2 Kickstarter campaign is underway! Let's make these books happen!

We had to wait until I got home from Fur the 'More - great convention, by the way - for me to push the GO button, but now it's time for success!

I used Kickstarter this year, because it is great for organizing the preorders and the tier system allows me to turn this from a project into an event! Let's see how great we can make this thing! The way it works is that you pledge an amount to get a certain tier. If the goal is reached (and, as of this edit, we're already close!) the project will be funded at the end of the campaign. That means payment will be taken on May 7th, and it also means you can change your pledge to whatever tier you want until then. This is good, as more options are still to come!

Feel free to ask questions on the blog, on Monday's comic, Kickstarter's message system or via feedback link. It'll help me work up an FAQ (edit: A first version is now at the bottom of the campaign page) and shape news posts. The Kickstarter will evolve and grow if the response is good, and there will be stretch goals to hit if the goal is achieved that shall unlock even more goodies!

I suggest you keep watch on the sketch blog this week, as I also have some fun behind the scenes stuff to share over there.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Soon... (Edit: Now!)