Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Damn you, Rhode Island!

That's it, Rhode Island! I'm call you suckballs out! ALL OF YOU!

One of my goals with Precocious is to have a day when all 50 states visit. How cool would that be? Well, yesterday was Precocious' best traffic day yet. (Unfortunately coinciding with one of my weaker strips.) 49 states showed up. GUESS WHO FAILED ME! AGAIN! THAT'S TWICE, RHODE ISLAND, TWICE THAT YOU'VE RUINED THIS FOR ME!

I can excuse most of my lowest visiting states. If I was in Hawaii, I wouldn't want to come inside and look at comics. If I was in the Dakotas, I'd double their population. I've spent lots of time in West Virginia, and using a computer is beyond the capability of most over there. (Although this means ALL MY COLLEGE FRIENDS HAVE FORSAKEN ME!)

Then there's Rhode Island. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE! I don't care if you're tiny - we all know you have people crammed in there! Alaska and Wyoming, the EMPTY states, outperform you by over 1000%! You don't have stupidity to fall back on either, Rhode Island. You don't suffer from Appalacian Stupidity Syndrome(TM) - you're in the ENGLIGHTENED area of the country! You should grafivate towards my little geniuses!

I demand a full apology, in the form of visits, soon. If you do not comply, Rhode Island, I will be forced to make my Texas contingent invade. You know Texas, they always want another flag to wave - and yours is as good as any other! Texas will come and brand you, Rhode Island. You'll be rebranded as North Texas, and then New England with make fun of you SO HARD. It's your call, Rhode Island. Oh, and please touch bases with Hawaii first. If you show up while they're out tanning, nothing is accomplished! (Same goes for all you sporadic states: SHORE UP YOUR NUMBERS, DAMMIT!)

Oh, and FAMILY GUY FUCKING SUCKS! That's your legacy, Rhode Island - a poorly executed, derivative crud puddle. Way to go, Rhode Island. Fuck you.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Infinite Canvas on a limited budget

I told myself I was done painting. It's time to get back to webcomicking! Uh huh. This is when Art and Whimsy sneak up behind ya, slap you around a bit and throw you in whatever direction they desire. It's an embarrassment of riches. After all, I planned enough work to last me until Thursday - and finished it Sunday night. All I had to do was lose my internet connection and ignore my family!

So now we have new goals. I want to sketch out the next 12 Precocious strips, which will take me into May! (April still needs a few Sunday strips, but let's ignore that.) I'm really into this bake sale storyline, so much that yesterday I woke up with a head filled by new ideas. Now I'm adding five or six strips to the story - I'm iffy on one - and they excite me so! More supporting characters now get in on the action.

I was honestly starting on that work when I realized I needed a cord to print out the new scripts. The cord was UPSTAIRS. People were NAPPING up there. I'm too LAZY to walk that far! Alright, fine! Let's paint!

I have six canvasses at my "regular" size of 22"x28" - even though they seem hopelessly tiny now that I've been making 4' behemoths - and I launched into the project with reckless abandon. You know why? Because I can! This size tends to give one the best cost-per-area ratios when bought in bulk, so I don't feel the "I am wasting money!" guilt when working on them. (I also have 2'x3' canvasses coming in that were equally cheap, so happy medium here I come!)

If you couldn't guess from the title and picture, the theme here is a landscape/cityscape that continues from canvas to canvas, eventually looping around. I've done this before. This could be a fun experiment, or pure self-indulgence. Either way, I have fun.

If I go to the full six paintings, I see these three being the last ones on the right - starting with the center one. Since the theme is civilization flowing into nature flowing into civilization, making different loops possible might be an interesting twist. (It also gives me freedom to switch things around for aesthetic purposes.)

This project may or may not come together as I keep working. It also may or may not continue during this trip. I may or may not be so infatuated with myself that I think this is interest. You may or may not care.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Building bridges; decorating fireplaces

Painting update! I'm in the home stretch and looking to finish these babies up tonight!

For Bridge, the task is now tightening things up and adding layers over patchy spots. Like the background color? It's my second attempt. In all honestly, a solid white background looked excellent with what I had, but something was calling to me. It was my tube of flesh tint. (I swear that's not a euphemism.) I broke my cap, meaning I MUST USE MY FLESH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! (Ok, that one may have a double meaning. BUT MAYBE NOT!) Even though it was inappropriate, I tried fleshing out my background literally. Turns out it looked inappropriate. Who saw that coming? So I covered up my vast stretches of flesh with parchment, and the world is now a safer place.

Moving from giant paintings, we have these lovely bite-sized attempts. (You can bite 9"x12", right?) The new one on the lower left isn't finished yet, but you get the idea. I don't know why they look so good hanging on the fireplace, but they do. Also, tiny paintings are so much easier to hang! These little paintings make awesome selfish gifts. "Here's my ART! Hang it on the wall or you have no class!" Hey, tiny paintings are easy to stash on unseen walls, so there's no harm. Then I can say I'm in several "private collections."

What I've Learned from Google Analytics

1. "Precocious" is harder to spell than I thought
2. "Knowledge is a Weapon" is easier to spell, and gets the same results
3. I can plaster my name over EVERYTHING, and people will still Google "Paulson" >:-[
4. Furries like me! (I like you too!)
5. Non-furries are highly indifferent to me! (Don't fursecute my kids, you bigots!)
6. One bigger comic linking to me will triple my traffic. An ad blitz gets me plus 10%, maybe.
7. Having a day with a minimal ad push, however, causes traffic to plummet
8. Only one bigger comic has featured me, but links pages do bring in a newbie or so a day
9. Installing Analytics on low-traffic sites can crush the soul (Hello to the other 10 people who read this!)
10. No one clicks on my Twitter links. I CLICK ON (most of) YOURS, PEOPLE!
11. I totally fail at the StumbleUpon social game. Some get thousands of hits from it. I get one a day.
12. The only page that gets less hits than my artist bio is the page about my friends. Ouch for all of us.
13. I should totally be doing a gag-a-day comic about hot chicks playing video games in manga format with cell shading
14. One noscript plugin can render a reader invisible to Analytics, so I can safely assume thousands of people are doing that, right?

I was going to do a painting update, but I put it off until I'm further along with both paintings. I made it to the computer anyway to look up lyrics for the new Decemberists album, which is awesome. Midnight passed during this, so I just *had* to open Analytics...

Anyway, today's blogging will be far improved once the paintings make it on later.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Creating a connection

Don't glare at me! I'm up here (in part) to prep for dinner. I'm in charge, so it's fried rice for all! It also coincided with a break in painting, so I'll do the progress post. I happen to set up a stepladder for my laptop, well, I have do something while the rice simmers. Why am I not cutting chicken and veggies while the rice simmers? SHUT UP! STOP LOOKING AT ME! I AM NOT A HOPELESS ADDICT! *sob*

The concept for this painting is, well, connection. Two forms -be they buildings, land masses, weird blogs of paint, whatever - are connected by a bridge the melds into them both. We grow dependent on our connections, eh?

A state of disconnect

If you've been reading the strip, you know by now I'm in a state of internet connection hell. The one I've used every other time I've been in DC has been down two days now, so drastic measures had to be taken!

I discovered that if I hold my laptop in the air and press it against the driveway-side window on the upper level, I can get ONE AWESOME BAR OF CONNECTIVITY! I connect, load up a page, sit down and do what I need to do, raise the laptop back up and click the send button. Brilliant!

I'm glad to have anything, because I was losing my fingerlickin' mind when I thought I was helplessly disconnected. Unless my regular connection comes back, I likely won't hit the internet again until it's time to upload. (Which I'll try to upload early, due to paranoia.)

But there is a silver lining! Without any internet distraction, all I could do was work! I had 12 strips ready for inking. Now I have .5 strips ready for inking. 11 strips completed in one day!

Today the goal is to try this no-internet, forced-concentration thing on painting. Will it work? Nope! Now that I *expect* it, I'm doomed to fail.

*shakes angry fist at everything ever*

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do it for SCIENCE!

As predicted, this is my OH GOD HAND LETTERING MAKES MY HAND CRAMP post. Getting back on that horse has been painful, but rewarding. I've only screwed up once in the 11 strips done so far. There is a quality to hand-lettered strips that can't be captured - even with fonts of one's own handwriting - so I'm fighting through the pain and basking in the glory.

I am rather excited about this next storyline. Not only do I get to introduce Kaitlyn earlier than expected, but I get to bring a beloved figure back! Check out this preview and drool over the impending awesome:

I can't wait!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The lilliputian mural

Tell me, is there a more condescending way to say I'm painting on a small canvas than that title? All those art school classes have paid off! This new size is the size of my scanner bed!

Novelty aside, it's gonna take a while before I figure out how best to use these damn things. Oh well, this guy is sacrificed for the cause. It *does* look better in person than that, although the stupid colors are the same. I used my aunt's paints for this experimentation, and the colors were awkward and weird. This was seriously psychedelic until I muted it with the ochre. Even with it, I want to hold the bugger up to a black light.

Here's tiny painting, step 2:

And here's a far-better photo of the painting hanging on the fireplace. It works!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's black and white and Siamese all over?

Work has begun on the next Precocious storyline, which will be in vibrant black and white. Go to hell, color! Expect a regret post once I start the hand lettering again. Hey, I'll be better off for it! Right?

So here's the Hu family again, in the sketch made for the first panel. They are clearly bringing happiness and light to our world.

You know, going with Siamese kitties is great and all - but in pure black and white? I gotta work hard to make them expressive, since I have fewer options with their mouths.

I fear the inking, so I'll just keep sketching out strips! 5/18 done so far. Let's see how many I can finish before heading back to DC tomorrow. (For those not paying attention, DC means blog posts about painting!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New year of life; new sketchbook!

Ahh, synchronicity. This day of transition brings with it a new beginning. No, my life is still crap. It's simply time for a new sketchbook! As is tradition, let's look at some sketches that never made it to the blog; the not ready for prime time players, if you will.

This one took *so* long to finish, which is a wonderful thing! I've been working too hard to waste time doodling! I will take that trade-off any day!

A birthday sketch! Man, I wish I had this many presents. Then again, I have no room for any new things. All I really require is goodwill and acts of benevolence! That or cash.

Since this sketchbook happened during the parents arc, adults were on center stage. We've seen the kids drawn grown up, random adult characters (not "adult" characters - don't think that!) and lots of parents showing off their glorious flaws.

I gotta admit, that is one cute drawing of Sydney Oven. Normally she's more sarcastic and weary, but a playfully sly cat is fine too. Deirdre Linkletter is more in-character, if not a completed drawing. I had another of her, which was a loose sketch and made her look a bit Bohemian, but it didn't fit the style with the rest. The panther in the back is an attempt to draw Dionne's mom. I can't remember if I shared the sketch or not, so into the background she went!

And here I wander into strange new territory. On a whim, I tried to draw those scary *other* animals. Precocious is purely doggie and kitty territory, as the animal forms are supposed to "human, but cuter!" and not "furry comic" outright. The bunny and raccoon chicks... not so great. Oh well, I have no use for them anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Marilee!

After working my butt off yesterday, daddy's tired. Rather than share something interesting and dynamic, I'll show off the latest early-stage painting.

This is Marilee Ruth Bishop, another of the Maquette ladies. She is not merry. This painting doesn't really do her justice yet, as it makes her look like she's about 10 years older than she is. Also, she looks like she's made of ice. Part of that's because I've only played with a limited palette so far, and part is due to a poor-qualify photo.

I took a risk with this one in painting the window shape, and I'm not sure it'll work. Marilee is first seen through a window, staring coldly. She's not actually *at* the window like this - it's the audience looking in at her - but painting a tiny figure in the background would be sacrificing quality for accuracy no one cares about. Going forward, I want to stylize the painting more and more. Maybe I'll blend the figure into the window frame, making her look like a ghostly figure. (Which is a good fit for the character, really.) I dunno what exactly I'll do, but I need to activate the space. The "patiently waiting in line" look just doesn't bring the mysteriousness as it should.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Strictly Business

Today's sketch is of our two Precocious parents in who work in the soulless business environment. Well, the ones who make it funny. Jacob's dad might qualify as he's a patent attorney, but he's so *sincere* - Sincerity isn't funny!

Gene Et and Sydney Oven both give away their secret hobbies here, with the World of Warcraft wastebasket (no, I didn't bother looking up the logo for reference) and Pokeball decal. I love their looks, as if they know they'll be outed as big children at any second!

I really botched the original sketch, but decided I'd run with it. It's the spirit of business! "Fuck it; let's look busy!" It gave me an excuse to mess around in Photoshop and fix all the major proportion errors. I did a great fix job, so that makes the effort worthwhile.

My mind's on business because comic promotion warps the brain hard. I'm becoming accustomed to fighting and clawing for any attention. If I sit back and relax, down go the stats! Now, I don't really mind, since overall Precocious is doing great, but the mindset remains. Gotta be aggressive to move up, because the internet is a vast ocean of indifference, insanity and unrestrained malice. You have to be bold to get attention of the feed worthwhile folks who somehow ended up online, and it's ever more difficult with comics because you never can be sure who makes up your audience. It's never one set group, but a cross-section. Try doing targetted advertising for that! Gah!

That fight is still fun, though. It's not life and death, and I enjoy a challenge where the outcome is measure by how greatly I succeed. A fight without a loser is a wonderful luxury, and I'm glad to have this as my fun obsession.

With all the responsibility in real life, my fantasies turn to the ultimate luxury of being passive and having life come to me. I'm so used to scrambling for any attention that unsolicited niceness is a joyful shock. Being invited over to dinner on by birthday by Dana; finding an unsolicited endorsement of Precocious at the Belfry; learning that people were voting for my site every day - these are the things I cherish right now. It's fun to be selfish sometimes.

I'll be the grown-up. I'll be productive. I'll earn my spot in humanity. It's about time I face some adversity in otherwise blessed life. Still, I'm not going through life without a metaphorical pokeball decal on my metaphorical briefcase! That's how I do metaphorical business!

Edit: Despite the perfect timing of the pokeball metaphor, I had no idea the new Pokemon game was released today when I made the post. Looks like the universe is either being kind or fucking with me. I'm not buying it quite yet, but it sure looks shiny.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sketching? What's that?

Remember when I was churning through a new sketchbook every two to three weeks? Now, it feels like I go that time *between* sketches. Is this bad news? Heck no! It means I'm working on the product. I'm keeping most of my promises! (I'd say all, but that puts me at risk of someone doing the research I totally was too lazy to do.)

Once I had my main characters set years ago, I rarely deviated from developing them. Look, it's a process that can only be accomplished through repetition. I'm doing all I can to get through the awkward early years stage, so drawing random figures isn't the priority!

And this sketch reflects that mindset. This isn't in the comfort zone, and it's not taking me in any exciting direction, but it's a sketch on Saturday. Enjoy the random furry chicks? Success?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Et too, Michelangelo?

Enough about my damn paintings. This blog needs to get back to CARTOON ANIMALS! Family friendly and adorable cartoon animals happily working together. It's like a candy-coated Brad Bird movie!

This was the backup sketch for the Family Webcomics splash art, rejected because it was entirely unclear that they were viewing webcomics on a computer monitor. Hey, they could be a really warped family viewing hard-core pornography - it's just not clear!

I did feel bad about the cutting of two children from the FAMILY art, so I went ahead and inked it. I feel the worst about little Mikey, who was meant to be the primary Et young'un. The only line he's had so far was when he was off-panel, locked away. (And I can't even be certain he's the one speaking.) Most of the time, he's the innocent one who gawks at chaos created by other children. Granted, that's *kinda* his role anyway, but he'll eventually interact more. It's just not fair that Frida, the kid supposed to just be part of the crowd, got her own panel to shine - readers even learned her name! Frida is the one you *expect* to be cut, but she's fun to color and that keeps letting her sneak into strips. Oh well, Mikey still gets his time to shine in this summer's big storyline.

Anyway, I'm trying to get the most of this image. It's now a lame wallpaper on the Precocious site and available for order as a print and magnet and whatever on the DeviantArt page.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who watches the watcher?

The character of Sebastian Miro is not only a nod to my favorite artist. Miro is also Spanish for "I watch." I'M REALLY CLEVER! Sebastian and his fellow performers watch the audience far more intently than the audience watches them. They adapt to the scene and adjust themselves to keep control. It's how to survive when under intense scrutiny. (I mean, is that a face you can trust?)

This painting is not that successful, but it's at a suitable "done for now" stage. I might take it on later with a photo reference, since I can't do myself justice here. I kinda like the raw nature of the painting, since it shows the painting process. Sebastian, by law, must be transparent in his actions; thus he must keep detailed logs of his activity. That doesn't excuse the painting from sucking, but it at least gives it some meta points.

The Model City

So I figured out how to get my blog to post on Facebook. (I think.) Feast on the annoyance, people! Also, feast upon the painting I have completed: The Model City.

Since I know you are lazy, I'm going to bring all the pictures together and show you the evolution of a painting:

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Final (click image for larger version):

I'm quite pleased with the outcome, as it only took two days of working to get it done. (Day being defined as the time from when I wake up to when I pass out. Screw you, midnight! You mean NOTHING to me!) My biggest regret is that my aunt bought a crappy camera that is hardly worth stealing. I've going to use it in DC from now on, as my aunt won't miss her camera while my mother is likely getting angrier by the day over her missing awesome camera. In the end, I can see in person how awesome I am. You get cruddy pictures and have to take it on faith. I have to assume you all understand that I don't actually paint jpeg artifacts into my paintings, although that would be a nice subversive art project...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The goal today is FINISH THE PAINTING! Should I be able to complete a giant painting in only two days' or work (I didn't touch if after the first post until 90 minutes ago) would be awesome. I work so slow and meticulous with every other medium, but painting is GO TIME!

This last step was to tighten up and fill in the periwinkle color, so the image is going to be a bit intense in that regard. (Also, I've stolen another digital camera, which does change how it's photographed.) Next step is to bring back the browns. Then it's black and white line time. Then the background color. Then denial about any changes that need to be made. Then it will be time in which I dance around and IN YOUR FACE everyone who doubted me. Fool! I shall destroy you all! Look on my paintings, ye mighty, and DESPAIR!

So, yeah, I can finish the painting or take a nap. Either one's good, really.


Edit: Only the background remains! This will be done tonight.

Also, this new camera is crappy, but it *did* give me a poor photo with slightly more accurate colors.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fun for the whole family!

I was raised on newspaper comics, and I strive to make a newspaper-worthy comic. I'm talking figurative newspaper here, as currently most newspapers are in sad decline and no longer worth the trouble. Whatever, it's the TONE I want to capture, and the delivery method can change. Oh, and it has.

I've signed on with two groups, both in the family-friendly comic vein, and I am greatly enjoying this current goody goody mentality.

First, as mentioned in the last post, is Kidjutsu, a site created to being comics to kids. When I was a kid, I spent my library time hunting down old Peanuts collections instead of blindly sticking with Judy Blume. I'll always claim I learned most of my vocabulary from reading Calvin and Hobbes. Comics are vital in getting kids to love reading, and Kidjutsu aims at providing kids a one-stop resource with tons of comic volumes to choose from.

Precocious will eventually join that line-up once I do some redrawing and reformatting. Finally, my tendency to create long story arcs pays off! I have issues - and they're not all mental!

The second site I'm pimping out is Family Webcomics, which does exactly what you think it does. It's very thorough in classifying and listing family-friendly comics, making it an excellent resource for parents. Precocious joined the list and I hope to be an active contributor there as well. It is my hope that when I am up against the wall, judged while a gun is held to my temple, I can point out I was a FAMILY-FRIENDLY guy. That could save my life! I'll admit that my family love might work more for a liberal family, but that's due to intelligence and being, you know, interesting. If a conservative mother is going to faint the second she reads the word "sucks" in her kid's comics, I can't really do anything about that. It's not like I could do or say anything to do more damage to her children than her anyway.

On the Family Webcomics forums, the creator, Mirz, put out a request for homepage splash art. This is something I can do! Here is my contribution to the cause:

Of course I had to feature my strip's giant Et family - with so many kids I can't fit them all in a square composition. I sorta felt bad about leaving Frida and Michelangelo out, so I started work in a second sketch:

This sketch hit a wall when I realized what a pain it would be to make it clear the object the family is viewing in the foreground is a monitor. But I did include all the children! Minor victory!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Forgetting the awkward phase in life

I've been mulling over joining Kidjutsu the past few days, and it's given me a kick start on *another* project... redrawing the early strips. Wait! Don't facepalm yet! I'm only aiming at the first 17 strips, which were done months before the rest (save the obviously incongruous strip 11) and really show it. I don't even need to redraw ALL the strips, just the really egregiously bad ones! (I'd also go back and redraw a bad panel here and there... like the last one in 24 and the third in 40.) I've even tried to make the new old strips look a tad unevenly drawn to make the transition smoother. While I'm doing this, if I want to use my AWESOME PRECOCIOUS FONT to re-do the dialog in some to tighten things up and/or upgrade a punchline... Ooh!

I do this not only because of self-loathing artistry, but for the sake of future profit. I want these intro stories to be stand-alone pieces, and readers expect stories to be uniformly drawn. I could also use the confidence boost that comes from improved drawings to create my own Gender Wars books - to sell at future conventions? Ooh!

Setting up in Kidjutsu would also require a format change, as it's set up more for a graphic novel form. This means turning my one row of four panels into a two-by-two affair. I believe all strips that would got into issues would adapt well. If I do that, I'd be doing a lot of re-scanning. And if I re-scan, then I'd make sure this time to save high-resolution versions of my black and white strips, which means I'll have them ready for future publishing in any format! Ooh!

In summary: I have a stone in my hand and I am ready to commit bird genocide.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

D-d-d-drugs, they say, are made in California

"Why is the post title quoting Marilyn Manson?" you ask. Well, let me share the truly bizarre (and hilarious) line of dreams I had this morning...

This dream session came in two bursts. In the first, as I am wont to in dreams, I was walking a very long, narrow and dangerous bridge. At its peak, I got delayed due to a police investigation in front of me. There had been jumpers and they were fishing the people out of the water. Turns out this scary woman approached a learning disabled guy and convinced him to kill his brother. She then took him walking on the bridge and was going to get him to jump off, making it look like the brother acted alone and killed himself out of guilt. The LD guy freaked out and grabbed her as he fell, taking both down. Amazingly, both survived. The LD guy talked when they were rescued and the woman was going to jail. Way to suck at a plan, lady!

The reason I was on the bridge, it seems, was to deliver a robot to the military. I got into a combat base and brought the codes for a Wall-E robot type. Turns out this was a defensive robot, which quickly identified a hostile situation and disarmed it. That means, of course, he disarmed US! I had to turn him off and turn the defenses back on, but it was too late. The enemy had used the lapse to break in. (Damn you, Wall-E!) It was my job to aim two guns manually and take out the enemy. This sucked, as enemies from each entrance had a clear shot to me. I took out one, had two bullets barely miss me, and was calling for backup when my brain decided it’d had enough.

(I woke up, took my meds, and went back to sleep to dream some more!)

Dream series two started with a dream where my grandmother was having a party at the townhouse I lived at from age 4 to 8. In this dream, I guess the whole family was rich and spoiled rotten. My mother and her boyfriend entered, both acting spoiled and snotty, and the boyfriend told a story about how terrible it was that he left his scotch back at the cabin. The women compared name brand serving dishes and catering services. (Note: This is about as opposite as you can get for them.) I was quickly pushed from the scene and told to amuse myself. I had a credit card, no supervision, no limit and lots of bought friends. It was time to go nuts and storm my former college campus!

On campus, I ran into Bill Clinton. (I assume he was giving a speech there and not trolling for some tail, but I can’t be sure.) He gave me permission to sleep with Chelsea, saying she needed the attention. I used the excuse on Mandy Moore (seriously? her?), who was playing a Chelsea-like role in a movie that just happened to be filming on campus. The dream got more meta as it devolved into a playful fight between her movie boyfriend, real life boyfriend, movie dad and Bill Clinton. When asked if it was weird to be fighting for someone who was playing his daughter, Clinton said he wasn’t even sure Chelsea was his. All those watching the scene were laughing at the ridiculousness of it.

After the Clinton thing, I joined a rag-tag group of people who were trying to sneak into my old Shepherd University dorm. There were ridiculous antics that would fit the screwball parody film this obviously was. (One guy started a war cry, and kept going so long we had to muffle him. He may have died, since we forgot to un-muffle him. No one cared and we dumped him in the street.) I managed to blow the plan by talking within earshot of the person at the dorm desk. This would have been fine, but then everyone in the group spoke up and argued about the best way to get into this dorm. Each dorm had a different trick and some couldn’t remember which trick matched what. By the end, the entire team exposed itself by talking, so the plan was dashed while we could regroup. I went off to chat with a conspirator and an overweight woman followed us. When she found out it wasn’t about the assault, she joked about doing twice her daily exercise for nothing. She was a good sport and she introduced me to THE TRIPLETS! They were not even identical – also, they were about 60. Dammit!

Plan failed, I walked to the college library, where I heard my friend Courtney talking over the speaker system, giving a soul-crushing speech about the futility of life. It was hilariously thorough, and delivered in the tone of a mother reading her child a bedtime story. I went in to talk to her and found her casually deadpanning into a mic. She decided to talk me up a bit, which surprised me. I was told that what I did put me above the level of amateur and I deserved the promotion. This great skill: Arranging Chrispmas lights into patterns.

I managed to arrange a city scene, which promptly faded into the real setting. I was on a ridge overlooking the city, with some maintenance building on the ridge with me. It was something government-related, but I’m not sure what. I watched a plane fly by and drop some banners, which were caught by the wind and blown over my head. They were army recruitment banners, saying the military would pay for your college education. The last banner hit a flock of birds and came in too low. It crashed into a security guard’s vehicle, which was driven by Marilyn Manson. As he got out, pissed off over getting struck, a eagle holding a Navy banner flew overhead. It dropped the banner on a guy dressed as an angel, who was ALSO promoting the military. (I must assume the marines, as they do love to die in combat.) I went up to Manson, who was still upset, and we joked about calling it in: “Sir, we’ve been attacked! The US Military hit two people with recruitment banners. One was dressed as an angel. One was Marilyn Manson. Both were working for the government at the time -- OH FORGET IT!”

And that was just what I can remember. The question is… can I make art to go with this?

Presenting: The paint sketch of “Model City” – a painting based on looking out on my former city of lights! (Canvas is 48"x30")

Edit: Here's a shot of Model City, step two:

Time After Time (Annelise)

Yes, she got her name from the R.E.M. song.

Annelise Ellen Rose, the painting may not honor you fully, but it's oddness is fully appropriate. You are a woman who is described as being slightly out of proportion at every attribute, leading to a face that is reasonably attractive, yet with something wrong about it. The painting lives up to a woman who is confident in herself, but hiding a physical awkwardness. (She also wears corrective,clunky shoes and has those thick glasses.)

Adding strips to the shirt was a risk, but I think it paid off. To me it looks like a strange knit sweater worn by a librarian or something. Hey! Annelise *is* a glorified librarian! Sweet! We're done here.

On to Sebastian, who may or may not get a separate post. (It depends on how much gets done before I fall asleep.)

I swear I'll get back to Precocious stuff soon enough, but these paintings have been waiting for MONTHS! Also, I got spoiled with my big HDTV monitor. Working on the strip just isn't as entertaining on the laptop alone. If you still need a Precocious fix, click on my DeviantArt link on the right and go buy a print or something. Some fine art is available there too!

Edit: Here he is!

Late night artistry took hold here, and I kinda like it. Sebastian is wearing a cloak that reflects his surroundings, which is a fair interpretation of his character. He's a performer, so his pay depends on reading his crowd and adapting to their tastes. As an information hound and gossip, he also makes a point of absorbing all "local flavor" he can. When you're the stranger in a new town every night, it's best to know as much as you can. Without social savvy, the predators out there will get you.

The diamond theme on his clothing (it'll be made clearer with red oxide soon) is part of the Maquette story. Sebastian is somewhat of a martinet. He will accept any restriction on freedom the law gives him, because without protection from the law a constant traveler is akin to ripe fruit on the vine. Law is society, and some sacrifices are needed for a greater freedom. He'll go nuts right up until things get iffy, then he shuts it all down. Even being suspected of breaking the law is bad news for him, because who trusts the guy who strolled into town, did some tricks and then passed around a collection hat?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

One down, four to go

While I flailed away on the others, Moreh's painting went in all the right directions. It is DONE. It is SIGNED. (I took the pic before the signing, as I had yet to paint the border then.) I rarely sign paintings due to the "I need to do more!" complex, but this one fills me with contentment. Is it perfect? Hell no. It is, however, in harmony. Moreh emerging from the shadows looking condescendingly amused fits her character nicely. She's glorious that way.

You know, if you look at the three painting updates, they feature what might be my three favorite characters from Maquette. All of them happen to be the ulterior motive, manipulator types. Moreh is the agent who hasn't met a government figure she can't corrupt. Annelise is the compelling bitch who manages to cross just about everyone's paths during the epic. Sebastian is not as epic as the other two. He's just a gossip with a pathological desire to know about everything around him - but such dysfunction eventually wedges him deep into the story. I just love characters that are so textured. Their flaws may be on display, but there's something about them that makes them at the worst feel like them at their best. These three all cause trouble, but you love that they did it!

I'm going to focus on getting the other two done next, so wish me luck.

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's DC; it must be painting

I'm back in DC again, which means access to a nice sturdy easel and giant canvasses. Painting mode: activated!

Painting mode: modified! I have all these unfinished Maquette paintings, representing a series of wall-hitting and general apathy. They are bite-sized compared to what I've been working on, so what's the trouble? Let's see if I can knock 'em out!

Oh, goddammit, can I not paint anymore? I ruined Annelise's hair, and each attempt to fix only made it worse. The hands came out ok, so at least I have that. You know, so she can become real and punch me for giving her hair out of a playing card.

Sebastian is coming along alright. This was formerly a selfish-portrait thing, but the character of Sebastian kinda looks exactly. like. me. So I can make it sexier than I am, claim it's him plus artistic license and throw it in my Maquette series!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The more things change...

There's a thread over on The Webcomic List about how characters have evolved over time. This was my contribution. No matter what is going on, on how crappy everyone looks, once thing is certain: Bud's family is a questionable entity. The two strips were drawn about two years apart.

It's weird to look back at the demo series. (And, yes, I know there's another post out there comparing a past and present strip, making this a doubly-redundant post!) The story revolved around the Pingo's touring the house that they would eventually own, then being taken on a tour of the smarty kid houses. Obviously, this means it touched upon several things the REAL intro strips did. It was never intended for publication, which should be obvious considering how hideously primitive it is.

Then again, I drew way more backgrounds back then. Now, I find it a personal insult if I have to draw a FLOOR. Granted, I needed *something* to distract from the characters. Oh, and it also had about 3 potentially funny jokes in 23 strips. (I gave up before Tiffany got introduced, lucky girl.) It took a long time to get my mind thinking in comic format, and I still make no claims it does it well. But, hey, I AM better at this now than I was when I was just starting out. I can only imagine how awesome the strip will look two years down the road. That's the thought that keeps me going. The present has a chance to suck, but the future is always home to the best-case scenario!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Always a rare treat

The joke about Bud's parents is that they're never around. Thus, it is my obligation as a cartoonist to make them suitably interesting for their rare appearances. I don't know about you all out there, but I'm loving this couple so hard that it hurts to part with them. There's a few ins for Bud's dad, since he's just locked in the basement - but his mom is always out of town. We just have to cherish the moments we have together.

Sydney Oven is one of my favorites. Writing for her is so natural and easy - and it always makes *me* laugh. This deeply sarcastic woman seems to enjoy it as much as I do when she goes off on an aggressively uncaring rant. Her outlook in life isn't so much, "work to change what I can and learn to accept what I can't ," but rather, "accept what I can't change and what I don't care to change. Fight like hell for the rest." She's the type to pull her son aside, look deeply into his eyes and tell him her Pokemon battle team is more important to her at the moment than her family. She doesn't mean it, of course, but that's how she communicates. If you aren't prepared for her, watching her curl up to her husband and coo about Bud, "I'm so glad we neglected him," might be a bit scary.

The sketches came about because I was working on some Sydney strips and I needed to have more. I wasn't even content with just making a sketch; I had to pull out the colored pencils! Sydney gets one appearence in the next arc and then I don't have an appearance planned for her until December, so it's best to enjoy her now. Ok, fine, aside from the next arc and an outline for the big summer spectacular, I don't have that many future strips scripted. I can still bring her in if needed, but is that the right thing to do? Sporadic characters must be sporadic to have impact - and it should make you appreciate them more when they do appear. The strip is, after all, about the four kids. I have a vast stable of characters, but they are there to rotate in and out of the main kids' lives.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shii's coming...

Ok, it's not like Shii Ann's arrival is anything more than a one-episode guest star thing, but her family exists solely for me to make puns and, dammit, I'm making them! Her daughter, Kaitlyn, is the important introduction, but I've only drawn Shii Ann, um, once before. As you can see, I'm still playing around with her details. I have to make this fool's look suitable for disheveling!

I set about drawing her today because I'm making decent progress with the parents arc and I'm getting to a place where I can think about the future. At my current rate of inking four strips per day, it'll be two days until all parents strips are ready for coloring. Granted, it'll take longer than that to ink since the later strips are far more complicated, but close is close! As coloring alone would drive me mad, I'll be diving into the next arc to spell me. I set my coloring obligation at two a day. After that, I shall rock the available house. I'm very pleased to be building up my comic buffer again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A banner day

Precocious 468x60 banner
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Precocious 125x125 banner Precocious 125x125 banner Precocious 125x125 banner Precocious 125x125 banner

So I've decided to aim for quantity over quality, it seems. I know there's a perfect Precocious banner out there, but I'm not sure it can be done using only existing strips. (Planned: A color Sunday with all secondary characters standing around looking dynamic. Humor optional.) Only five of the above banners are new, but I threw 'em all in to make an impressive wall. Deal.

Today was meant to be a Project Wonderful ad blitz, but that seemed to end quickly when everyone else tried one too. Yay for the Monday push! Seriously, Precocious needs one more PW bidder to make bidding competitive. I'd like to one day be able to gain enough from ads to balance out what I'm spending. (And there's a noticeable drop when I stop spending. Gah! Can't we just fast forward to a time when I have a super-solid base of readers?) Anyway, with my ads being outbid and me not willing to spend any more, the solution my brain came up with was to create more ads. Yeah!

I hope I have some interesting sketch stuff to show off later today, but I fear this day will be ALL BUSINESS! Fight! Color! Draw! Win! Grrrrrrr...