Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aww, the Bud Light!

Not the Bud Light! NOT THE BUD LIGHT!! Why couldn't you have taken me instead?!?

Ok, this is a cop-out, phone-it-in post that was predicted a week. (Have you ever seen a more lazily-drawn lamp?) It's not like I'm being social or anything this time. In fact, I spent all day in bed... just to see if I could. I'm a societal mirror: The apathy I feel towards my life is the same apathy the world feels towards me. I'm going back to bed.

Also, I totally want to sell Bud Lights in the future.

Friday, January 30, 2009

...and boy are my arms tired!

I just scanned four weeks of new strips tonight. Man, that's tedious... but productive! Now I have to decide what to do next. I want to do the parents strips, but I might also want another buffer week. Maybe I should venture outside first. Nah.

Ominous sign: On the second scanned strip, I was almost finished. I selected the remaining gray artifacts and hit the delete key. The monitor went black. So much like life!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Henry Darger

For those not in the know, Henry Darger is one of the great outsider artists. He was this possibly-schizo hermit-esque guy who lived a seemingly unspectacular life. Only after his death, when his landlord was cleaning out his apartment, did they discover he had written and illustrated a crazy-brilliant (by reports; I haven't read it) story about saving abused children.

While being an "outsider" artist will get him remembered in history, it is also what restrained him. I have to wonder what he could have created if he was able to properly capitalize on his talent. He was clearly talented, yet untrained in basic things like perspective and anatomy. Maybe it might not have made him so interesting in the eyes of history, but post-mortum fame, recognition and acceptance is sorta lost on a dead man. It's better than nothing, but the man still went through life with no recognition.

Now the the "new" tag has left my comic on The Belfry, a major webcomics list, I am watching my hit count crash to earth. Yesterday, I even lost a subscriber. One of the 30 people reading my strip decided I wasn't worth the effort. It shouldn't hit me that hard, as my strip is not flavored for mass-consumtion - even though I do present it as such in hopes the masses come around - but I needed to get all I could from that "new" tag. Now I have to network. I have to promote myself. I have to advertise. I have to contact other artists for guidence and potential friendship.

I don't know if I can. I fear my brain has gone from "delightfully wacky" to "crippled by insanity." I don't have any strength left in me to go beyond myself, and I don't see any help coming ever in my current situation. All I can do for the moment is lock myself in my room and work on my strip. It's one of the thousands of stories in my head, but it's one that has concrete results. It's the best I can do to Darger things. Every other story will be lost unless I start writing them down. While I don't plan on dying, uh, ever (I can rest when all my enemies are dead, and then only after a lenghthy victory dance) if something should happen, as it stands people will have forgotten me before my body was cold.

Promotion for me is a much slower process than it is for sane people. It's been a month now and I've only done two things to promote the strip. Over time, I will slowly do more. Many, many opportunities will pass me by, but I might eventually grab a few. With some luck, people will stumble upon my site and my readership will grow to the, uh, dozens. That's if I'm actually good.

Precocious is interesting because it's a twisted take on what happens if brilliant children do receive the encouragement and support (both social and parental) they need. A recent strip I drew featured Sky Et lamenting Tiffany's enlightenment taking a rather inconvinient turn. The true potential of the wrong person is a terrible thing to behold. Just imagine what I would be like if I was a functional human being...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Like the Bush administration and natural resources

It took quite a while to make this sketch. Why? I kept shading to make Roddy's fur appropriately dark. See, the all-black Roddy was fun in pencil because I could make him gray and still have the freedom to give him the expressions he deserves. Everyone knew he was meant to be black, so everybody wins! Now, he's been anti-Jolsoned. Part of him is white! If I make his remaining black parts gray, it just looks like gray. He looks like a feline Max, which is inappropriate, creepy and somewhat unintentionally hilarious if you want to make a "difference between dogs and cats" joke.

So now I have blackify Roddy's blackness. And if I go too far in one place, that means I have to darken the rest to make it look right. As I kept going, the thoughts begin to nip at me... I'm wasting my pencil lead! If I run out, I have to buy more! Poor Roddy, of course he's the one I'm drawing when I contemplate if it's worth finishing the drawing just in case I'll face a minor inconvinience like procuring more easily-obtainable lead.

Now, pencil lead is one thing I happen to have a lot of at this point. Thanks to my comic push, I doing far more work than sketching, so those supplies are holding up well. It's every *other* art suply that is freaking me out. Who knew that being an active artist meant buring through supplies so fast? In the past few weeks, I've had to restock on comic templates, India ink, the "no-copy" blue pencil lead and the very precious mechanical pencil erases. There was a point where I thought what I had was an inexhaustable supply. I bought enough for FOUR MONTHS! Well, my intro story was two months of work, the comic has been up almost a month and I am a month ahead in strips. Lookee there!

Unlike some people (such as the guy upstairs who got kicked out of a bar last night because he was too wasted and caused a disturbance - and spent today on the phone happily declaring that everyone he offended should just get over it) I hate spending more money that I'm taking in. This is a problem when one is without a (paying) job. I worked my butt off enough previously to build up some "winter fat" savings I could live off while I was doing my artist thing... but I've been doing that longer than anticipated. I still have plenty of savings to make the purchases I need - which is good, since I continue to make those purchases - but nowadays each purchase comes with feelings of guilt.

Let's not forget the majority of my art supplies were taken from my dead dad's stash. I've had to restock, of course, but the supplies I inherited *did* help me choose my direction as an artist. I have no desire to work with high-end art supplies. For me, the investment does not justify the result unless I know I'll be selling the work. I make due cobbling the together the few supplies I have. If I know my supplies are dwindling, I tend to hold back too much - which means I'm handicapping myself. If left to my own devices, I will do something like switch my last remaining eraser between each pencil I'm using until some merciful soul takes me out to buy more. (Thanks, Andrew!) When I do finally restock, I buy in bulk. Not only does it often bring a discount, but it allows me to toss aside my worry.

The current comic successes are partially due to me feeling free enough to experiment again. There were times when I impulsively grabbed a template and just started drawing. Shockingly enough, those experiments all ended up becoming actual strips, so I get double pride from that! Still, if they had failed, it was OK to put them aside and move on. Feeling secure in resources means such things are learning experiences, as opposed to costly mistakes. It would likely benefit me if I put more of an effort into consuming supplies with reckless abandon (hence the Bush administration joke in the title) because I will learn and grow (here's where the Bush analogy breaks down, as they never learn) - but I'm still cognizant of a future when supplies will dwindle once more, so I guess I'm still a bit too *cough* conservative here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's a secret to everybody!

There was a reason I started drawing my characters as Zelda figures, but I forgot it halfway through the sketching process. Oh well.

Bud is Link, of course - and I think I did a darn good job too!

Autumn gets to be Zelda - and I think I did a darn bad job too. I sketched this while on the phone, and the distraction shows.

Tiffany, of course, is playing the role of that senile old man.

Jacob was going to be Tingle, but that seemed too cruel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A winner is me!

Explanation for those of you not hip to internet memes. (And for the headline.)

Today was a lovely productive day. The much-hyped dessert violence strips have been sketched and are ready for inking. Barring a horrific inking accident, I am happy to say it's some of my best work yet. Yay!

Not content with merely being badass (and too much of a coward to risk a horrific inking accident) I set off on scripting the next back of comics. Time time I am working without a net. As previously mentioned, most of my strips were scripted or outlined long ago, so I live in fear that I may no longer be able to think of new material. After my quasi-success with the Roddy strips, I set out to do more. Once again, the strips ended up filling a need. The five I conjured up all deal with the Precocious parents reacting to my darling children. Gene Et and Harvey Linkletter are set for their Precocious debut, while the Oven parents remain no where to be seen. (That's what the also-much-hyped parents prequel arc is for!) The strips are going to be artistically adventurous and are lovingly amoral. If you want to know what *I* consider funny, allow me to share a deleted line from one of the comics: "It's a real bummer if you're HIV..." Those in the know are laughing right now. Those not are perhaps terrified. Either way, I'm entertained. (The "bummer" line is going to end up the comic's title.)

Edit: If every cloud has a silver lining, the inverse is true. Every bright, sunshiny day causes sunburn and maybe skin cancer. I was so excited that I stayed up all night working. This is going to wreck me for the next week at least, but at least I got some sunshine from it. The result was ten strips, laid out,sketched and ready to ink.

Progress was only halted by three factors:

1) The Australian Open is held in Australia (who knew?) - which means I was watching some very exciting matches live. Watching the plucky underdog chick come so close to the semifinals, only to choke away at least three 40-love leads and several deuceamajigs (technical term) was both inspirational and realistic. And unfortunately engrossing. Watching Andy Roddick play even with a player who spent most of the match debilitated by heatstroke or something until he was forced to retire made me proud to be an American. Let me explain: American athletes are often spunky, deeply flawed and carelessly talented. Time and time again, Americans lose due to a lack of discipline. Why is this a good thing? Because the best (technical) atheletes are built by rigid, dehumanizing training. (Think Chinese gymnast mills.) I'd rather be represented by the boastful clusterfuck that is Bode Miller than "flexibly-aged" He Kexin. America: If we can't beat you, we'll beat ourselves!

2) Finding links to explain the geek references in this post lead me to the TV tropes and idioms site. (Damn you, Andrew. If you hadn't told me about it I never would have investigated!) I knew it was an all-consuming time suck, but it was just so interesting!

3) I ran out of pre-lined strips. It's a simple process to go mark off panels for new strips, but the process of getting up and moving opened me to distraction. By the time plucky underdog's final surge fell short, I was reading all the examples of how Star Trek: Voyager failed in list after list. At this point, I was in the undead state - not able to sleep, but also no remotely able to function properly. One more strip got scripted - which features cynical parenting, educational corruption, alcohol consumption and automotive vandalism - but that was it for me. (I'm running that strip on a Saturday, meaning it'll be the active strip for TWO days!) Since it takes me about four hours to wind down and sleep FROM THE POINT WHEN I DECIDE TO GO TO BED - and that is WITH a sleeping pill, which I did not take this time, involved - I should be falling asleep approximately 10 minutes after my "get the fuck up and take your Focusin" alarm sounds. Yeehaw. Silver lining: I ran out of Focusin and my shrink messed up the script, meaning procuring more is more hassle than Major League Baseball conspiracies are worth.

At least I got to watch some pretty snow falling.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Action Comix

As of this moment, I am three weeks ahead in comic production. As of one hour from now, I will be two weeks and five days ahead in production. As of two hours from now, uh, the same - but closer to three weeks ahead than before!

Tonight sketching begins for the week of dessert-themed violence. Now, drawing action is not my strong suit, but the goal is to make an "artful" comic and that means no cop-out static layouts. (I still say I should make a constrained comic about computer programming, video games and wikipedia-fueled commentary - populated by pixelated anthropomorphic creatures. THE T-SHIRTS I COULD SELL!) Being an artful comic would be easier if my art was, oh, artful - but I'm still a novice, dammit! Every damn strip I am trying SOMETHING new, and that means mixed results. (Bonus: By concentrating on the hard parts, I screw up the easy to draw! The upcoming Suzette strips are disgraceful, I'm sad to say.)

Anyway, these action sketches are nearly as awful as I thought, so optimism prevails! Another positive is that I am under no obligation to draw full bodies on the frame, so there's less chance to botch a complex perspective. Do you realize how SCARY it is to draw Bud from behind and Autumn on her back? Two-dimensional cartoon characters aren't designed to be viewed from crazy angles! It requires skill and, uh, deep voodoo powers to get those looks right.

So... voodoo time?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Bud's for you!

What? It's Saturday night. Give me a break! I'm not even clever enough to do a "Aww, the Bud Lite!" in-joke thing, as that would require drawing a lamp. (Next Saturday?)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The spirit of giving

You say the holidays are gone? Well, they are. The holidays are dead and rotting in the ground. Chrispianity will dance on their graves!

This post actually has little to do with equinox-inspired generosity, but themes include compassion, giving, cold weather and an impulsively drawn halo. The topic had to be addressed.

I am still working on building up a nice buffer for Precocious. If I have an epic inking weekend, it's not out of the question that I could end up a month ahead of schedule. (Chances are I'll only be three weeks ahead, but that's still damn good!)

Since I had only loosely planned which story lines would be coming up, I didn't have a firm grip on the numbers of already-scripted strips I had. The next two weeks will cover Max's birthday shenanigans. After that, the goal was to do some random, one-off strips to focus on my visual gag/regular gag writing skills. If not that, then I was going to do the story about the dessert brawl.

Today, I finally picked my direction. What did it? I had already uploaded a one-off gag strip tentatively set as #31, which would make it the Monday strip after the Max stuff. The dessert set turned out to be six strips, which is a week's compliment. Ok, then! I'm too lazy to spend two seconds changing the number, so gag week it is!

I already had two written, and I figured I would try to craft strips around potential t-shirt designs. (It's not soulless if they're funny.) The gag strips are needed because they allow me to show off all characters of Precocious. Not all arcs involve anyone, so new readers might go a month without seeing, say, Roddy. Roddy's proposed t-shirt design (posted here months back - look it up yourselves!) is more of the natural conclusion to several Roddy plots. This is something that four panels alone can't convey.

THE GOAL HAS SHIFTED: Get Roddy some air time! His big debut was supposed to be the class president storyline, but we are now post-inauguration and my time-warp strips will seem even more hopelessly dated. Checking my "Precocious story lines" document, the strip is going to focus on the home lives of the kids soon. In the middle of it all is a placeholder line, reminding me that I need a Roddy storyline to keep him in the minds of the readers. That time is now!

I'm happy with the new batch of strips. Not only did I get to involve Roddy, I established HOW Roddy is able to break into the lives of my insular children. Even better, the strips are seasonally appropriate! By producing these strips, I am officially tossing aside the "Autumn is the new girl" crutch and moving into the strip's regular, time-appropriate rhythm!*

Granted, these four strips are not marvelous. The artwork took a MAJOR step back, as I am still really weak at arranging a bunch of character in one tiny panel. Also, the ending was a little, uh, table-turny. Oh well, they served their purpose.

*If I can build a month buffer, I am using that to do the second "prequel" arc for mass-uploading to the archive - but that is a bonus and not the regular strip. Oh, and the "spring project" arc will briefly draw upon Autumn as a n00b, but I'm not even certain I'll produce it at this point.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sir, I exist!

"A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." - Stephen Crane

You know, if I ever left my room or got remotely sociable, I'd be getting somewhere. Instead, I just have to focus on making the best product I can - so when people do accidentally stumble upon the site, there's plenty of stimulation. Oh, hopeful idealism - maybe if I'm worthy *someone* will care. I'm a poor, damaged soul here! Reaching out to the vast, uncaring would is hard enough for normal people - and I have a broken brain actively sabotaging me! Publicizin' is hard werk. Like Prezidentin'!

I suck at reaching out to people, and I apologize for that. Slowly, slowly I will learn how to function. Hey, when I do learn how to act like an unbroken person, I will have lots to work with. Today I went through my archives and created all new banners for the Precocious website. As I don't have any way of tracking usage (I suck at the internet) I will assume no one is actually using the banners. Why the heck would they? Who cares about the awkward new kid in school? Even the most sugary new-kid-at-school fiction involves a handful of kind people emerging from a large ocean of indifference. In real life, especially on the internet, the ratio of nice-to-indifferent is way worse.

Still, the time will come! Banners will be exchanged! Ads will be placed! Readership will slowly grow? Maybe.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hetero-Normative Behavior!

I'm am such a wholesome idealist. Well, in one subject at least. Since the foundation of Precocious is my idyllic childhood, that means the environment around my kids is extremely awesome! Gemstone Estates has just about everything a kid could ever want! Outside the houses we have lots of stimulation. Inside the houses... LOVING FAMILIES!

The Precocious parents are a fun bunch. They have happy, healthy marriages, do their best to motivate and encourage their children and they are delightfully insane!

I'm almost done drawing the Max's birthday storyline, so now the question is what to do next? I have a silly little brawl over dessert, or I can go back and do that much-hyped parents storyline. Ideally, I'll do both! If I built up a large enough comic buffer, then I have time to create the parents arc and just insert it into the archives. That's the dedication I have to you people! (I make no promises that will happen.)

Either way, it's time to practice my parent-drawing skills. I want to get the parents introduction into the archives soon, as they do tend to pop up in the strip. While I do my best to get their personalities across in their appearances, I want the chance to expand upon them. Once they are established, their lines in earlier strips take on new interpretations!

The only worry I have is that I naturally write more adult jokes for the adults. One couple met due to judgment impaired by alcohol and fatigue. Another punchline involves nudity, paint and the dining room. (I'll let you contemplate that one.) I love it, but such risky gags could hurt any syndication chances.

The humor is appropriate contextually, though. Insane geniuses don't just pop up out of the blue. I believe in nature over nurture. The environment may do some finishing in shaping personalities, but lots of my kids nuttiness is inherited. Each kid is the natural consequence of their parents spawning.

That is... if I don't blow the strips with a bad script. Before I draw anything, I've got to tighten up the story and connect the dots.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Confident Optimism

Gotta do something to celebrate the wonderful transition from the horrors of the Bush administration to the hope that is Barack Obama's presidency. Though about another sketch with happy, Obama-supporting cartoon characters - but I've done that to death. This is a new era of responsibility and accountability. I'm a friggin' artist, so let's do the hard task!

Ok, no one in their right mind would ever hire me as a portrait artist, but it's not *too* horrible. I consider that a victory. Looking at the sketch and gauging my portrait talent... things currently look a bit rough, but we are also clearly on the path to improvement. Gee... does that remind you of anything? My sketch is no longer flawed - it's META!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Spadey Sense is Tingling!

Spades: No fun at parties.

After finally getting through Mr. Tedious Boss in the latest Castlevania for the DS, I've been spending a lot of my time as the game is FUN now! Seriously, guys, what's the deal with the crab? "Hey, let's make a boss that sits below the hero - when only one weapon that can hit something below is available!" "That's a great idea! I love it so much, let's make the battle happen in FOUR STAGES!" "Great job, everyone! Drinks are on me!"

Anyway, I've been plowing my way through in my usual bloated-level way with these games. (I suck at video games, I need the extra cushion.) Like all good Castlevania games, this one has a bunch of side quests and optional fun to pursue. Oh man... how can a spade resist? It's time to consult the GAMEFAGS! Er, GameFAQs.

For those who don't know, "spade" is a term taken from an analysis of those massive multiplayer online role playing games. (Technically, the analysis was for a primitive version, but whatever.) Some guy broke the types of players down into four classes. You can read the article here if you want.

Diamonds: These are the achievers, focusing on playing the game itself. They like to beat the game, then beat it again even harder. They don't do sidequests, chosing instead to focus on speed and skill.

Hearts: These are the socializers, focusing on interacting with the other players. They form the in-game communities and like to chat and give gifts. For them, the game is just another way of connecting them to people.

Clubs: These are the fighters, focused on besting other peolpe at the game. These are the player killers, PVP warriors and online racers. They measure success by their ranking against other people.

Spades: These are the explorers, focusing on examining game mechanics to figure out the world. They combine efforts with other players to figure out all the little things that can be done with a game.

I am a ridiculous spade. I love doing every sidequest and finding every non-standard approach to the game possible. I think it's FUN to bike back and forth in pokemon hatching eggs, slowly leveling up the hatchlings, checking their stats to see if they're good and (99% of the time) resetting and starting the process over. What do I get from it? A very minimal boost in overall performance that really is no where near worth the effort put in. But, when I pull something off, it's exhilierating. (I have bred the world's best non-hacked Rotom and Milotic!) It's the thrill of the conquest! Many times, once I've done all the sidequests and pulled of every exploit possible, I put the game aside without ever bothering to beat the game. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is one my favorite games ever, but I never beat it. Once I managed the unthinkable and managed to create ninja tabi for my entire team, there was no other challenge the game could offer me. On to the next obsession!

Castlevania is addictive because it has something for everyone. Diamonds can play through the game, then do hard mode, then do hard level one mode, then do the boss rush, then play as another character, then try to beat the times in all of those! Clubs can go online and race with each other. Hearts can open stores online and chat on message boards. Spades have tons of side quests and minor tasks to occupy them. They figure out how to arrange enchantments and equipment just so to find exploits, such as easy boss kills and easy money. They test attributes to see what effects what, which is needed because some of the item translations make no sense. They locate every hidden area and item. Rock on!

So what have I been doing? Right now I have a rubber band holding down my up button as I absorb enemy attacks to boost my elemental stats. Every hour my power goes up like 1%! Woo! Tonight I will probably leave the game on with a familiar killing things in a room where enemies constantly respawn so it can level up, gain me experience, help the item based on my kill count and bulk up the time played to help items tied to that. Earlier I hunted down every enemy in the game to make sure I got every item drop possible from them. (I'm one short, but not skilled enough to access that enemy easily.) Later, I am boosting my treasure chest luck and hunting down rare random items I don't need. As I said, spades are no fun at parties. We are profoundly boring people.

Pulling out that rubber band did give me some ideas, though. My main characters fit nicely into the four groups. Bud is a diamond, Autumn is a club, Tiffany is a heart and Jacob is the spade. (Poor guy.) Not only can this inspire some fun bonus art down the road, but I could even turn the idea into merchandise! Gamer-appealing t-shirts? Ooh. Actual decks of cards? That is the dream, people! I would seriously love a Precocious-themed deck of cards. Maybe one day, if I ever get a loyal readership, I can justify the work and fiscal investment needed to make that dream come true...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hopping on the bandwagon!

Well, at least ONE Pennsylvania team isn't making the Super Bowl. I can't bear to watch the other game unfold, as I don't think things are going well. I'm trying not to check in, as the Ravens only seem to score when I turn off the TV. Yeah, yeah, I know. I see it this way: If a stupid sports fan superstition means I don't watch a team I like lose against a team I despise - alright! If they win, I will still be happy! Yay ignorance!

I do seriously enjoy that the widely-proclaimed "worst team to ever make the playoffs" is going to the Super Bowl. Suck it, haters! If every team I root for shit the bed this season, I might as well root for the best story.

Instead of the game, I am watching Big Love from On Demand! The plan is to ink a pile of strips. If accomplished, it would put me two weeks ahead!

Edit: I caved and checked on the game. Sure enough, that was when Flacco finally realized he was a rooking and make sure all jackasses in the area are happy. I HATE WHEN AWFUL PEOPLE ARE HAPPY! If only we had gone to Buffalo Wild Wings... that could have reversed the jinx! Or is that only when Dana is there? I BLAME YOU, DANA! Man, it's hard to keep track of nonsensical superstitions. Anyway, I hope someone finally goes through with my plan and paves over all of Pennsylvania. We need the parking space more than the people. Just sayin'...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hypothermia is the hip new trend

I am getting reaaaalllly tired of this brutal cold. Heat is being leeched from our house so fast that the heat pump can't keep up. I have resorted to sealing my room to keep the heat in, dressing in layers, drinking hot liquids and starting fires to keep warm. I'm even running my dehumidifier, despite it being so dry my skin is crunchy and static electricity builds up so much to incapacitate a person, just because it also generates a bit of heat. I'm eating whatever is available here, since going outside causes the circulation in my extremities to shut down. Look, I'm normally a shut-in, but I like to be in control of that! This is getting ridiculous.

Edit: Notice how I misspelled "chatter" each time, and didn't even correct it the second time. I also didn't erase the blue between Bud's tail and leg. IT'S THE COLD'S FAULT!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who is the final cylon?

I have no idea....

Yes today was mostly spent geeking out. First came a Castlevania binge, then I fell into the Battlestar Galactica marathon. I'm hooked. I admit it. Just as I did for Lost, I watched every danged episode on DVD in preparation for the season premier.

The only real progress made today was in finishing the last of the color strips. You know, what was a fun experiment... but I am NOT doing that again for a long while. It takes for-frakking-ever. Sorry, Max, your birthday spectaculor will be in black and white. Sucks to be you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My poor neglected sketchbook

As noted several times before, when I'm doing productive work I am usually doing sketch stuff. For fine art, sharing progress is wonderful and encouraged. For comics, posting a punchline because I like the drawing is not a bright thing to do. It's a daily. You'll SEE it shortly. Doubling up either makes you ignore the blog or ignore the comic. (If you weren't ignoring me already. Yeah, I am looking at you ALMOST EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE!) Also, I had just done that crime in the post below. I had to force myself to sit down today and actually use my sketchbook. I tried to play around, but nothing was happening. So I had to do it... CONCEPT ART FOR AN UPCOMING STORYLINE! It's not actual comic context, but rather a chilling view of things to come! Spoiler alert: Max is having a birthday party.

I'm about to start working on that story, which will start on the 26th. The current goal is to finish two comics a day. If I can do that, a nice sized buffer will build up - I'm already a week ahead - which may allow me to relax and stop this manic obsession thing. One of these days I have to get back to the fine arts. It's like living in a house stocked with sweets and nothing more. Just because you love to eat everything available doesn't mean you don't start craving savory delicacies instead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From chaos comes creativity

...from creativity, chaos.

This may become a real comic one day! Aww. See, I need to make the comic to justify a t-shirt design in the future. It's deliciously soulless! This started as a free draw sort of thing, the only motive being that I wanted a strange construction. Fun details: 1)That's a Max doll on top. 2)The drill says, "Drill, baby, drill!" 3)There's a pear in the fishbowl. I don't know why.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Desperate times call for busywork

Just as cowardice caused me to work on the gruntwork that is coloring, a sad and stressful day caused me to make the swatches graphic I needed to make for coloring. Colorizing strips requires actual effort, but making swatches is mindless busywork. Oh well, this will help in the future. The colors will change, I'm sure, but that just means I update the swatches. As long as it was a swatch at the time, no color is ever incorrect!

Life in grayscale

Today the goal was the colorize the next four strips (they go live starting Monday) and possibly get the other two for next week done as well. If not the next two, I could work on some promo pics for the website. I had plans!

Today I woke up feeling great - for the first time all week. I even had a dream of minor complexity! In the past week of fatigue, my brain couldn't muster anything memorable in the few moments of unconsciousness I achieved. The dream was fairly uneventful, and most of it was promptly forgotten in the way all dreams are, but at least I had one.

The part I remember involved my family moving into a new house. The neighborhood was newly built, with not all houses completed and grass just beginning to cover the dirt. After waking, I got the impression that it was in Georgia - possibly based on the few memories I have of the house Dana's family had down there. The family and some friends were gathered in the family room watching some program, which later turned into a ridiculous Lost/Battlestar Galactica/sit-com mash up. There was a crisis: Food. Some of us had eaten earlier in the dream (I was one, and I think we ate in a mall food court) and some were starving. Well, this being a new house, we had very little to offer. The best I could find was some crappy frozen pizza, and I felt bad about preparing it. Instead of making the pizza for the few who were hungry, I asked the group if they would be ready to eat a slice or two if I had pizza delivered. Everyone was noncommital, so I decided to go ahead and order pizza. Only problem: I was new in town and didn't know the number to call. No one else did either, so the result is one minor thing turning into a the most boring clusterfuck ever. It was not a great dream, but there was something that I overlooked initially: My dad was there.

Shortly after my dad died, I had a dream in which I was sitting with him in the back of a theater. He told me that if I ever needed him, he would be there for me. Since then, in times of stress and worry, he would show up in me dream. It was always very casual - just everyday normalcy, He was just there in boring family scenes. Only after waking would I realize that is not normal. When he appears in my dreams, it means something is wrong - even if I haven't realized it yet.

After this dream, I just shrugged it off. The dream was SO inane, I was content to let it go. I did not learn my lesson. I was feeling good! I was energized and refreshed! I spent the first hour of waking calm and relaxed, content to compose whimsical stories in my head for the fun of it.

And then I got a phone call telling me my grandmother (mom's side) had a stroke. Mom came home, packed a bag and drove to the hospital to be by her mother's side. I had to stay here to take care of the animals. While typing this post I got the update call. It wasn't a stroke! It was a seizure brought on by two-to-eight malignant and inoperable brain tumors! Whoopee! If she survives this episode, she'll start hospice. They're not sure if it will be days, weeks or months right now, but an MRI later could tell us more. For those keeping score at home, that would be two grandparents on hospice and two with scary chronic health problems.

This is the second time in recent months that I woke up and declared to myself that it would be a good day. First time my cat died. This time the only grandparent we WEREN'T worrying about almost died - with the "almost" still in doubt, mind you. I know all of this is coincidence, but DAMN. If I was just a tad more egocentric, I'd believe I was the center of a universe that was extremely displeased with me.

Anyway, I'm trying to keep moving on with Precocious stuff. I finished inking the next four strips and sketched out the cast picture seen above. I may or may not use that for the website, but no matter what I won't be coloring it today. I scanned it and prepared it for coloring, but my efforts will be going to working on the strips. Whenever I color, I set up a layer of the gray I use to filter out leftover pencil marks when scanning. It gives me a background that shows any artifacts left behind. Since I wasn't going to color today, I just saved it with that background. I figure it fits the mood.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Color means always having to say you're sorry

So now that I am playing with color, I got the idea of redoing the cast page with COLOR pictures! To do this, I'd need to make a new inked drawing of each character. That's easy enough, right? After all, I've only drawn some of these kids THOUSANDS OF TIMES!

Well, here's the thing. If you look over every strip, you know what my characters look like. If you look at each individual drawing, you'll see *something* slightly-to-majorly wrong with the drawing. All the drawings average out to the perfect character... but choosing one to stand alone as THE character is maddening. It's a lot of pressure to make that perfect drawing - that both captures the character's personality AND takes well to coloring - especially when I am still rapidly improving in my execution.

Anyway, I decided to ignore updating cast/banner graphics for now and just colorize the one Suzette drawing I had around that hadn't been scanned yet. Wheeee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In vivid technicolor!

Wait, what? Hey, not all colored panels are *colored* panels!

My coloring experiment has reached an end. (For now.) The result is one full week of awesome color! After that, we'll see how it goes. Colorizing doubles the production time for each strip, so that's a recipe for early burnout. I did not spend four years re-learning how to draw to prematurely evacuate this strip! (Again: If I can jump the line from "hobby" to "career" then all restrictions fall away. I love doing this, but I risk dying of starvation if I exclude all other things for it.)

Possible solutions:
1) Suck it up and keep going.
2) Aim for a daily black and white comic
3) Aim for a Monday/Wednesday/Friday color comic
4) Get my ass into grad school so I can devote my life to cartooning AND get course credit!

I'm stopping the list there, because I like scenario lists in which every possibility counts as a success.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The power of negative thinking!

Today I woke up with the plan to keep with the publicizing effort going. So far I've put the strip on a few lists... and hoped for divine intervention! I have to keep submitting the strip to portal sites, start socializing on message boards and - this is the scariest - write to web cartoonists I adore and see if I can get some advice/assistance. I feel like such a tool doing that, and I have no clue what to say. I'd likely send the email equivalent of "Duuuurrrrrrrrrr," and make a fool of myself.

Suddenly, playing around with color isn't so bad! That's just tedious. Tedious > Awkward!

After my bold declaration of not making Sunday strips, with the bold edit of not having a strip for THIS Sunday... I will have the strip ready for Sunday after all. Having lost complete control of myself, I went ahead an colorized Monday's strip as well. Color strips *do* look spiffy! Also, they mean strip creation takes twice as long. Also, if I colorize strips, I have to save each original in the hi-res form in case I'm ever cool enough to justify a published collection. Also, color strips make publishing costs go way up. Also, I am not getting paid for this. See, if that last issue is taken care of, all the others go away.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Every day is like Sunday

Goodness, I hope not. I'll take the football, but the whole large-strip-in-color thing will drive me mad.

Today I got ambitious and tried to make a Precocious Sunday strip. It was going well until everyone died. I used a Sunday template I had sitting around and that meant the panel sizes would be smaller than normal. Because of that, I inked with tech pen only. The precision probably took its toll on me, as I was soon making mistake after mistake. Enough! Sunday strips will come LATER. I did some token coloring on one part, during which I realized I really need to set standard colors of my characters *before* I start colorizing, but if this comic ever appears online it will be black and white like the rest. I just can't allow myself to overload myself with more challenges when I'm barely scraping by with competency now! Ah well, it was a learning experience at least.

Edit: Ok, maybe I will colorize this one after all. Just don't expect it *this* Sunday...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The faces of evil

Finished up the back to school strips today, which gives me a week backlog! This puts me father ahead than 90% of web cartoonists!

Next up is a few strips that revisit the supervillain idea. If all goes as planned, it'll be a nice bite-sized bit of enjoyment for new readers... which, at this point, is every reader I will have in the world save, like, two.

Before I sit down and draw the strips, which require a strong amount of competency to pull off, I've got to sketch a bit to see what costumes work. What you see here may or may not be the final outfits.

Here's who we have:

Bud - Dr. Oven
Suzette - Mylytant Femynyst
Autumn - The Scarlet A
Tiffany - Chaotic Butterfly
Jacob - Some Guy
Roddy - Le Chat Noir (even though he's no longer all black...)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Work work work...

As I've said many times, the days I am working are the days I am not making sharable sketches. Today was an inking day, which will soon turn into a "completing new comics" days. Yay!

Fortunately for you, ink takes time to dry. For a while I would go and sketch out new comics while ink dried, and then I ran into a difficult comic that made me give up on that. New tactic: I had a sheet of Bristol board with sketches done for inking practice. (It's the source for my "sweet" pictures.) While waiting for ink to dry, I'll just INK SOME MORE!

The figures here aren't that interesting, but they were just for practice. You'll not the absence of Autumn here... that practice sketch did not go well. I have a nice Suzette, but all the others were close enough to scan in one sweep and she was across the page. Sorry, Suzette, you got left out again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The past is a grotesque animal

I went looking through old sketchbooks tonight. From a brief review, this appears to be the second group drawing I ever did. I didn't date my sketchbooks at this stage, but from the class notes it appears to be from early 2007. What you see was by far the best stuff in that book. It's shocking to think this was less than two years ago. I've come a looooooong way.

Looking through that book was fascinating. This sketchbook is where the characters really started to form. I had them in my head by then, but this is when their looks became standardized. Max aside, what you see here are the characters as they exist today.... just drawn in a very, very primitive way. Even though I had almost no control over the form, I was getting competent enough to start planning the strip. Here is where rough sketches of some of the parents began to appear, as well early layouts of the Sapphire Lake neighborhood and Bud's clubhouse. I was so ambitious!

The reason I dove into my old sketchbook pile is because I wanted to find a good visual of how damn raw I was at that point. I had a rambling ready to go, and I figured a visual was needed.

Tonight I went back and read all the Precocious archives. You know what... It's not that bad. Strips I was *so* embarrassed of just two days ago don't look as weak with a bit of objective detachment. Even the drawing style has turned from "inept and incompetent" to "adorably rough." For now, at least. I may change my mind tomorrow.

There are loads of mistakes, of course. Two strips accidentally omit periods in dialog, with Jacob the victim each time. Tiffany remains the character most likely to cause a mistake, as two strips result in her body parts disappearing after they pass behind something in the foreground. Lots of strips fall short layout-wise, but I've already covered that. (I'm still upset at myself for choking on strip 24.) There's also a lot of places where I know I made mistakes, but chose to keep going rather than lose my mind over details I wasn't skilled enough to handle anyway. Stray lines, poor lettering, bad proportions, ineffective gestures... whatever. Rookie mistakes. Forgiveness is divine?

But do all those mistakes add up to a reader (or worse, a syndicate) losing faith in my potential? Ever since I put it online, I was certain my early work would doom me. Tonight... maybe not?

My first art was well-crafted, even if it was clunky at points. I introduced all main characters (as well as the parents most likely to appear) and gave them face time in proportion to their importance. I touch on some themes I want to handle in the strip - which is where I am at my worst, unfortunately - and I certainly do my best to make the tone of the strip apparent.

The first strip does its job. The clubhouse is featured, giving the setting. Bud speaks while Tiffany sits in the background, indicating Bud is the more central character. Autumn's story about sneaking out shows she is both new *and* a strong characters. Bud telling her she fit in, as she threatens violence over beverage selection, tells the reader what to expect with tone and humor. Not bad. It also nicely contrasts with Jacob's introduction in the next strip.

On the character front, I really like how I handled things. The goal was to simplify the kids a bit in order to make their personalities easier to identify for a new reader. Autumn is overly aggressive. Jacob is the sweet pushover who is constantly injured or manipulated. Tiffany is aggressively spacey, to the point of narcolepsy. All of that, for the most part, works.

Then there's Bud. He's the hardest to nail down, as his role is to be the central character. Bud is best defined in how he interacts with each character. With Autumn, he asserts himself as a central character with a leadership role. Bud contrasts with Autumn in that he takes a more playful approach than she does. With Jacob, he becomes the clear leader to Jacob's naive henchman. Here we see Bud at his manipulative best, down to the callous dismissal when Jacob indicates they are "best" friends. With Tiffany, he is able to interact with her casually without her drifting away. Their interaction is limited in this storyline, but it will be made cleared when the parents arc appears. With Dionne, Bud meets his foil. As long as Dionne is around to make Bud look foolish, the reader is shown that Bud is just a good kid who can talk a big game. In the end, I am not sure how much of that really comes across, but I am hopeful his personality is defined enough. The parents arc is when a lot of Bud's idiosyncrasies appear, so I am not too worried if he's not fully defined yet. It's coming.

What does make Bud shine is not in how others define him, but how he defines the others. When Bud says something, the reader is meant to take it as fact. While Autumn gets lots of face time because the story is based around he being the new girl, Bud is clearly the central figure. Bud is the one who tells us Autumn's hater attitude fits right in. He's the one who implies that Jacob's whole family is wholesome and innocent. He redefines Autumn's narrow villain definition, and later explains to Jacob the difference between a regular villain and a SUPERvillain. He initiates the gender war and explains why Autumn is so aggressive, indicating acceptance and forgiveness for a character that might seem too mean otherwise. He repeats how there is no one to recruit, hinting at the group being so insular that they ignore non-genius kids. He lets the reader know that Max being a normal, nice kid is extremely atypical for the Poppinstock bunch. He is the one who sets the rules for the war. He is the one who explains why the kids seem to enjoy arguing semantics and setting rules rather than just hitting each other with water balloons as normal people would. If there's any doubt as to who is the strip's central character, Bud defeats Autumn in the end. The arc begins with Bud in the clubhouse, and it goes out with all other characters leaving (or being banished from) HIS clubhouse.

I do enjoy the early arcs because I get to show Autumn adjusting to a setting where she is no longer the clearly dominant figure, but rather an equal who fits in perfectly. Unfortunately for her, this means she eats a lot of humble pie. Autumn tries to recruit normal kids, only to be thwarted by them being horribly normal. The more strategy Autumn plans, the quicker it is undone by teammates who clearly have no interest in being loyal followers. In the end, the established kids defeat her and Autumn settles in as one of the group. I do worry Autumn isn't likable enough, but I tried to show over and over that this behavior is just what the kids do. Autumn just has to take her licks in the first few arcs as she learns the game.

While the two main characters are dominant from beginning to end, the rest are all given their time in the sun and then shuffled out of the way for the final confrontation. This is what I love most about the arc.

Max, being useless in a war story, only gets three strip appearances. We learn he's the biggest and strongest, but his gentle and caring nature could never work with a evil story like this! We know he's there. His personality is clearly defined. He is tossed aside, having done his part.

Suzette enters as the incendiary figure that spurs the rising action. She's a fun character because she's always contentious, but she's not as complex as the rest. Suzette is self-righteous, often in a hypocritical manner. Suzette is aggressive. Suzette is always marginalized, which just fuels her fire. She burns hot, but she burns fast. Once her flame is doused, she's gone from the story.

Dionne is vital to the arc, as she is the face of TRUE evil. Without Dionne reducing both Autumn and Bud to a weakly pointing at her as she dismisses them with a "tah," the war could look far more mean-spirited than it is. As Dionne has no soul, that means everyone else does. The kids are just having fun, and they are not prepared for when the real gamer appears. Dionne is mean to be Bud's foil, which may seem odd considering she aids him in the end. Just remember: Dionne had Bud dead to rights after joining the girls squad. After that, she turned her focus to thwarting everyone else! Dionne is a dangerous character because she takes over whenever she appears, but I felt she was vital for the first arc. Any extra bit to show my strip is not pure evil and unlikable is a good thing.

While Jacob and Tiffany are clearly main characters, the first arc made it clear their roles are secondary. Most of the time, they served as sidekicks to Bud and Autumn, but they did get their time to shine. I loved the part where Jacob went off on his own, because I could show how carried away gets in these situations. Jacob's attempt to be a badass is easily disarmed by Tiffany wanted to play her own game. Tiffany always sat back to toss in some spacey line to silly up a conversation or knock a character off-balance, but she shows her competence when facing off against Jacob. In the end, the sidekicks take each other out so the story can return to where it began: Bud verses Autumn.

If you're still reading at this point, good job! I'm almost done!

In the end, no one can say the first arc of Precocious wasn't conceptually brilliant. I knew what I wanted and I did a darn good job of putting that plan in motion. The execution might not have been great at times, but the idea was solid. I'm proud of what I've done and, I had to brag about it. Isn't a long, happy and enthusiastic post WAY better than me beating myself up over and over?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Life in the fast lane

This is one of my attempts to shed some of Precocious' ingrained evil and create some Ozy and Millie-style sweetness. I wasn't going to share this sketch, but Andrew convinced me it was worth inking. Artists never know which of their pieces others will like. This is why soliciting feedback is so important - even it makes one come off as whiny and needy.

Today was a coma day. I slept in a bit late, only to find my evil black cat sleeping with me. It was so precious, I didn't want to disturb her! Back to sleep I went... only to wake at 2:30PM. Criminy, that's an epic amount of sleep. The cat, of course, was still snuggling. As today was a bed-in day, I passed the time reading the latest Peanuts release with the periodic company of all three cats.

It's kinda fun to be able to relax. Sure, there's about a thousand things I need to do to save my pitiful life - but the immediate deadlines are covered! Precocious updates are covered until Thursday, and I'm going back to work later in hopes of building up a bigger backlog of strips. All in all, I should be running around while screaming - but I think I'll just relax and enjoy life today.

Check back here tomorrow, when I'm screaming, crying and cutting due to stress! It's the ciiiirrrcclllleeee of liiiiiiiiiffffeeeeee....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The age of punters...

In football, no one appreciates the kickers. They are just weird people who hang around to do one thing; and they keep inviting teammates to parties even though no one ever comes. (This is why I went with Suzette for the sketch.) Many of them are so misguided, they started life playing the *other* football. It's like they got confused, wandered into the wrong stadium and the couch said, "Hey, why not?"

The theme of the playoffs so far: PUNTERS ARE GODS! Last night Mike Scifres was unpronounceably good, pinning the Colts next to the end zone all game. Today, Sam Koch wrecked the Dolphins' self-esteem all day with uncanny skill in pinning them deep. Must be the creatively-spelled names. ("Ciphers and Cook were our slave names!") While the Ravens ended up dominating the Dolphins in nearly every aspect, field position was the only thing holding Peyton Manning at bay in San Diego. In both game, punters crushed the spirits of the evil teams and therefore they are my heroes.

Now it's time to root for the Vikings to knock out the Eagles. Shit. Their punter, Chris Kluwe, is goddamn awful and single-footedly responsible for losing a few games for his team. He *does* have the strange surname though, so there's still a chance!

(Maybe I should change Suzette's last name to Graedhe...)

On the comic front, tonight the first regular update will happen. Yay! I have four strips finished and ready for scanning, so no stress tonight! The next strips I draw will feature the new Roddy. It shall be magnificent!

Impromptu football live-blogging edit: Kluwe's first punt resulted in EPIC FAIL. Spell your name right, jerk. You are not deserving of the scrabble-draw name!

Re-edit: Game over and I blame the punter for the loss. Go back to playing WoW, Kluwe. You stink worse than a hungover orc.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The buzzer beater!

(I accidentally hit "publish post" to throw up something blank due to my scanner usurping control of my computer.)

Thanks to the Colts/Charger game going into overtime, I nearly missed my daily update. (Seeing Peyton Manning lose AGAIN to the Chargers: TOTALLY WORTH IT!) But I am here and I am ready to share! I had an image prepared for sharing, but didn't get around to scanning it before the playoff games because the ink was still wet. Oh well, I made it in time!

After yesterday's whiny post I wanted to share something cheery, cute and fun. Enjoy a cute slice of life with my kiddies joking around.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Postpartum Depression

After one day of the most depressing glory basking ever, I am back at work on strips and thinking about the future. It's been hard, since I'm still very much suffering from the letdown.

It's well documented that my deadly sin is pride, and one aspect of that is my desire to always appear perfect. Putting out anything except the best gives me the dagger-dancing-in-the-stomach feeling. It's why I gave up on cartooning so many times over my life. Obviously, I got over myself enough to put my strip, in all its rookie glory, out there for everyone to see - but I'm feeling some narcissistic aftershocks right now.

I have no idea if anything I've made is funny. Being so close to the craft, all I can see are the technical back stories to each strip. Pride can quickly turn to disappointment if I start to dwell. Rationally, I realize cartooning is a process with its own standard and logic. Only time, practice and research will bring improvement. Emotionally, the perfectionist in me screams every time a face doesn't convey the expression I need or the dialog is not arranged/written in a way to preserve the proper timing for a joke. I am way too close to the work, so I need someone unattached to give me proper feedback. Too bad only those obligated to read the strip have done so at this point. *Sigh*

Ahh, but that's why we have pilot episodes. They show potential, even when the craft is still shaky. I do believe I have the makings of something good, even if I'm a few life lessons short of producing such work. Re-reading the pilot, what can I change to improve myself?

The big thing for me is LETTING GO of the details. I want to show I have the entire world planned and mapped, but there's no reason to bog down strips with it. My goal was to use the inevitable clunkiness of the pilot to get across basic information so I never have to reference it again. Of course, when new strips deal with those specific elements I have to re-introduce them anyway. D'oh. I should focus on telling a good story and let the details be inferred. It's hard for me, since I am so detail-oriented. My characters, having been created by me, tend to speak in my voice. They are rambling bores!

Another weakness with writing caused by my personality is the tendency to write as if the works will be spoken. The dialog in a comic strip is READ, so the snappy timing that makes a strip funny in my head is lost in translation. Yes, there are little touches a cartoonist can add to indicate how dialog should be read, but I am so weak on penmenship that legibility is still my main focus.

Character-wise, I have a lot of changes that need to be made. Proportions are still wildly inconsistant, and I don't see that settling down for a long time. Only repitition will cure that. Until then, I am going to keep misjuding the height of my characters and be forced to stretch them so their feet don't appear in-panel. A lot of strips got ruined when I tried to expand or shrink characters to fit, making them look very rough and wrong.

Character details also need to be reevaluated. Roddy was the first, and most significant, change, but I can see many tweaks that need to be made. Both Tiffany and Suzette suffer for "too many quirks" syndrome, which can look awful if not handled correctly. I'm not sure what needs to be done to clean that mess up at this point. My handling of short-sleeve shirts is still abysmal, and every character sporting one suffers for it. As simple as it should be, managing the strips on Jacob's shirts thwarted me time and again. I should also begin thinking about the medium shading that appears on Bud, Tiffany, Suzette, Max, etc. By the end of the pilot, I learned to use tech pens of smaller width to make the lines, because the equal weight caused conflicts with outlines. Another approach might be in adopting standard shading swatches and dropping them in via Photoshop. As that requires spending some money, I'll put it off for now.

The task now is to sit back and DO THE STRIPS, even if I know they are somewhat weak. The best instruction for cartooning is experience. I can talk a great cartooning game with my knowledge of the medium, but that means nothing if I never develop my skill through execution.

My pride wants me to go into hiding again; to let a few more storylines build up before I start trying to get publicity. I can't do that. I just have to press forward and hope my archive shows progress and potential. I need people to care about me and about the strip. Without help from others, all the feedback I get is from my personal demons. Those guys are assholes. It's sad and needy to talk like this, but if I'm the only person emotionally invested in this project, that's a good sign that the project is a failure. At this point I'll take the moral support from those obligated to be kind to me. Something. Anything. I understand that my mom saying I'm cool does not make it so, but I could *so* use a placebo effect right now.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Discarding the race card

As I've referred to the Gender Wars arc as Precocious' pilot episode, let me continue that TV series analogy. Pilot episodes are generally raw, as the creators haven't yet discovered what works. Some premises change. Some details are altered. Some characters are cut. Other characters are re-cast.

The major visual Precocious change looks like our poor, unlucky black cat will be recast. I mentioned a few posts back that I was in the middle of inking a Roddy drawing when I turned to get more ink on my pen. When I turned back, I saw Roddy with only the top of his head inked. It looked... better. Could I change my black cat to a Sylvester-type cat? At the time, I decided to stay the course and debate the change later... but now it's later.

The day after the site was launched, I feel the pressure to make my moves now. Look, just because I officially launched the strip doesn't mean anyone showed up to see it. My traffic went from zero to, maybe, two. I still have time! While this post was originally going to be about weighing my options by comparing the two inking possibilities, I've gone ahead and made the change.

I like the *idea* of Roddy as a black cat, but in practice it was limiting. Only certain types of mouths look right when drawn on an all-black character with just India ink, which is a problem because Roddy is supposed to be rather expressive. By making him black and white, I now have the freedom of expression with Roddy that I need. I lose the concept and I lose the race card, but the long-term gains in storytelling will likely make it worth it.

At this point, I was going to continue with the pilot episode/regular season analogy. I want to talk about lessons learned, promotion and various other comic things that weigh on my mind. But not tonight. All today I've been in major postpartum depression, and the power I need to win friends and influence people just isn't there. Oh well, I'll be back in the rambling mood soon enough.