Monday, June 27, 2011


Apologies to all again. Still in a work funk, but I'm slowly trying to catch up.

Today's offering is the next step of the Skull Mountain commission. I blue lined the initial sketch, went back over it in blue pencil to flesh out the details and then did a pass with ink. Using this, I will then employ my lightbox to trace the final images in colored pencil and begin the coloring process. I want to have this whole thing done by Friday, since this is a time-dependent piece.

If you're wondering about that other sketch I wanted to have done the other day - it's still in limbo. I've got it about 60-70% figured out, but I'm not satisfied yet. Not happy that I'm dragging on this stuff, but that's how these funks go. As soon as I get some momentum back, I should be able to pull ahead again. Such is the temperamental ways of the artist.

To hasten my return to glory, I think I should shelve the other commission pieces for a few days and grind out some Precocious strips. I'm down to my last week of buffer and the anxiety to keep ahead is overtaking the sense of security that started my productive movement. I already have next week's strips inked, so they only need lettering and coloring. The real pressure is coming from the week after that, because that is when I plan on having Bonus Comics Day. That means I need 21 strips done for then instead of the usual 7. Scripting on those is done, and pencils have begun - so my work load is not nearly as scary as it seems. I just have to, y'know, spend my days working. I keep forgetting that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jacob shirts!

There's a new shirt up in the store! All you Team Jacob supporters better run and get one, because it'll only be there for a limited time?

Why limited? Because Cafepress is cheap and evil, only allowing me to have one design per product at a time. I can pay to get the ability to sell multiple designs, but considering my store sells about one item every two months, that hardly seems worth it.

So what I will do is swap the new Jacob designs around in the economy shirt slot. Get the one you want before it rotates out!

If you think those Team Jacob freaks are getting smug, why not grab the Blame Jacob shirt when it rotates in? Maybe one day you will meet someone wearing the Team Jacob shirt and get into a brawl! That'll be awesome!

Finally, since someone requested it, here's a Jacob "I like me" shirt. Wearing this shirt will guarantee hugs from everyone.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The artist's eternal war against unconsciousness

Blame Wimbledon and the cruelty of time zones for pushing me over the edge. I'd been tempting the sleep demon for weeks, choosing to eliminate an hour or two of slumber a night in favor of more work time - and suddenly trying to wake up at 7am every day without a shift in bedtime was bound to get me.

The past few days have been washed out by built-up fatigue, and I've only made it worse by trying to appease those damn sleep demons with inconsistent napping. Yeah, I am NOT someone who can nap. Naps leave me more scrambled and tired than before - yet my body keeps fighting for them anyway.

At this point, I've cost myself about two days' worth of work time with my sleep shenanigans. Thank goodness I chose to pull this stunt when I was two weeks ahead in everything! Things are still well in control, just not as super-awesome as before.

Yesterday was SUPPOSED to be my commissionathon, but that fell through because I was doing make-up work for my failed comicathon. This morning was supposed to be my make-up commissionathon, but, uh, I was in a daze well into the afternoon.

SO LET'S CATCH UP, STARTING NOW! I have two commissions that need to be sketched out by the end of the night, and a third that demands attention today or tomorrow as well. (But tomorrow is supposed to be the paintathon...)

So here's part one of my make up work, a concept sketch for a commission involving the kids riding the Skull Mountain ride at Six Flags: America. The scene I chose to depict was the part of the ride where the boatacoaster goes down a hill and splashes into the water. I was supposed to fit eight kids into the scene, but my current composition ended up cutting out Max's seat. Oopsie.

As I wait for approval/suggestions on that sketch, I now move on to the next project. Can I have a second post about it up by midnight? Knowing me? Probably not. BUT I'LL TRY!

Edit: I failed. Not done with the sketch and too tired to finish tonight. Sleep now. See you in 12 hours!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Could it be marathon week?

Almost forgot to share this. I have made commission progress! My first ever watercolor commissions are now complete, and I didn't ruin them horribly! I won't claim I have much watercolor skill yet, but the lack of ruination exceeds expectations and is encouraging.

That means two projects are now done. What's next? A GIANT MOUNTAIN OF WORK, of course! This week I was supposed to be in Virginia, but I decided against it so I could work and work and work and work. Let's do that!

There is a lot in front of me, so this week would ideally contain a bunch of epic grinding. How many days can I pull off a workathon this week?

I need a paintathon at some point. I have three sold bite-sized paintings that need heavy upkeep before they will be ready to ship out, and I'm still not content with the eyes on my big schoolgirls painting commission.

I need a comicathon at many more points. I have two weeks of buffer left, but the goal is to ALWAYS have at least two weeks of buffer. As soon as Monday's update appeared, I was technically under my buffer goal. This cannot stand! I was hoping to have seven inks done today, but it's looking more like I'll only get to four. That means a double work load for the next comicathon day! Oh yes, and I'm in charge of coloring all strips for this group of strips, so I must factor in a colorathon some day this week too.

I need a bonus comicathon on top of all those other comicathons, since I owe you guys two weeks worth of extras. I'm aiming for making Bonus Comics Day a big event, but that first means MAKING those comics. I have 15 scripts ready to go, which will turn into 14 finals, and I want them ready for July 11th. (More on Bonus Comics Day when the date is confirmed.)

Finally, I have some commissionathons ahead of me. Not only do I have a few donation sketches left to make, I have three commissions that are ready for the sketching stage.

Can I do this? I hope so. If I want to make a living at this thing, this is the world schedule I'll have to deal with.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alternate endings!

(click image to embigginate)

Mushroom cloud not your cup of tea? Have a look at the other possible endings to today's strip that were scripted. All are perfectly valid, so choose whatever ending your desire for the fuse tale... and imagine what might have been if you all had donated faster. ;-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A candy-colored day

I woke up today with plans of drawing all day on a sugar high, since my first act after waking was to drive to post office and pick up my package of gummies! (Also: Comic treasuries!)

Of course, as you were probably just mumbling to yourself, there's no real link between sugar and hyperactivity. Instead, I loaded up on candy, blew up my pancreas, read some new comics (the last Fox Trot dailies collection) and took a nice nap.

After waking, it was too late for a true drawing marathon, so I went with the foreshadowed watercoloring instead! Progress so far is slow but sure. There was only one moment of pure panic, when a tiny bit of blue snuck into my brown and threatened to mar Tiffany's ear - but it blotted up well enough.

What's in store for tomorrow? I'm gonna have to do a comic marathon sooner or later, but my normal Saturday schedule may get in the way. I think I'll play the role of temperamental artist tomorrow and do whatever the heck I feel like doing. So long as I'm doing SOMETHING, all will be well.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go consume another pound of gummi peaches.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From bumbling comes success!

Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days. I've been working on donation sketches and I decided not to share them. Those things are special and I want them to be pleasant surprises for my donors. It's for a good cause, but it doesn't give me much to share if that's all I do.

Well, today I nearly finished off the donor sketches! (One request to go, not counting the few requests that haven't come in yet.) With the sketches in a good place, it was time to get back to the big boy commissions!

I've been really stressing over these. Today I had to get the inks down so I could get my watercolor on. Yes, I'm tracing, but there's still no room for error - and I have to make sure the line quality works as well.

You see three Tiffany Suicide Kings drawings because that's my test image. As soon as I started working with them, I found out I was in trouble. My super-expensive watercolor paper is great for watercolors... but not so much for tech pens. The line quality was not good, and that meant going back into the work and trying to correct places - doubling the time needed. This would not do.

Fortunately, I *am* a former printmaking major and I *did* bring my old portfolio with me to Savannah. My old printmaking paper is just fine for watercolors (I hope), and the tooth is much less harsh. So I tore apart my meticulously-constructed setup for tracing the big piece. After clearing my area for space, I measured and tore a new sheet of paper. I once again meticulously constructed a setup for tracing. I turned the light table on... and realized I had constructed the piece upside down. ONE MORE METICULOUSLY-CONSTRUCTED SETUP LATER... The bumbling and crazy was over?

Ha, no. That's when the swarm of insects descended. I was working on a light box on a warm summery night in an apartment in which the windows are full of gaps to the outside. I should have seen that coming. The little guys were numerous, but the biggest worry with them was resisting the urge to smoosh them, which would goo up the piece. Didn't see the big guys coming, though. I was drawing with my biggest, thickest tech pen when the largest of the bug assault smacked me in the face. I jumped. My hand jerked. The piece... was ok? I have no idea how I didn't leave a big black smear across the thing.

After all that, the piece came out looking just fine! I tempted fate all night. I bumbled like an idiot. Thanks to stress, I was so tense that my finger is now KILLING ME even though I only drew a moderate amount today. But it's all ok, because I didn't screw up the final piece!


Monday, June 13, 2011

More birthday girl fan art! (Belated edition)

In continuing my Savannah socializing follies, I am the doofus who decided to back Twitter for my social media of choice while all the cool kids went Facebook instead. I can go a week without checking Facebook, and that means I miss important things. Important things like the birthdays of awesome people!

Last week was the birthday of the inspiring Sarah "Pickles" Dill, of Distillum. To celebrate, I thought I would whip up some much-owed fan art for her. Here we have Rob and Kavitha, looking very young and rather ridiculous, because I drew them and I am not one tenth the sequential artist she is. But it's the thought that counts, right? (Maybe I'll have to take her out and buy her lunch to make up for this... Whaddaya say, Pickles?)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some fan art for a birthday girl!

Today is the birthday of the lovely and talented Darc Sowers, of the excellent Code Name: Hunter. To commemorate such a grand occasion, I am fan arting as best as I can!

Here we have Ruby and Max about suffer the consequences of angering Gadel. (Something I assume happens hourly around the offices.) I can't tell you how intimidating it is drawing someone else's characters - especially if it's someone you greatly admire, who is also a FAR superior artist. (Oh, Darc, I wish I could have done better for you!)

Anyway, much love and positive vibes for you! May this birthday be truly excellent!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The joy of minor characters

Yesterday I got to do something I hadn't done in a long while: Introduce a new character to the Precociousverse! Meet Mitzy Bard, the Poppinstock Academy third grade teacher! We may never see her again in the strip, but she's canon now and that means SHE NEEDS A PROFILE!

This is where the fun begins. New characters are full of potential, and I can shape Ms. Bard into anything I want. Let's explore her life, shall we?

What we know of her in-strip is that she's been held captive by the older kids during the school revolution and that she freaked out when her class was invaded during the ice cream social. She didn't seem to be very pleased with Ms. Monster's behavior either.

It's time to start connecting the dots. I see Ms. Bard as younger than Ms. Monster, and probably more naive about the way the smart kid system works. To get where she is at that age, she had to be a real go-getter and little achiever in school - likely getting a nice, pricey education. She probably came from an upper middle class or rich family, which kept her fiscally sound (and a little spoiled) through school.

Personality-wise, I think we can say she's easily flustered when things go wrong. She's probably the type to try planning out every little thing, so she falls apart at the unexpected. Assuming she and Bette Monster aren't on the friendliest of terms, I can see resentment at Bette's wily and unconventional teaching ways - labeling them as lazy and mean. Mitzy probably sees herself as the good and NORMAL person, bristling that the school would hire smartasses like Bette and eccentrics like Dr. Oven. They aren't good role models! Mitzy plays the by the rules, always doing what she feels is the right thing. And I'm not saying Mitzy is delusional about this stuff. She may actually BE a good person in this comic full of insane jerks! She's the type to get victimized - the question is how much of it is exploiting her good nature and how much is it her bringing it upon herself?

Although not mentioned in the strip, my WORD OF GOD statement regarding her name establishes her as single, which must bug her as it means her fantasies of finding a husband at college didn't pan out. She thinks she's been doing everything right, but her boyfriends keep turning out to be lying jerks! Oh well, at least she's not as old as that spinster Bette. Mitzy is at least TRYING!

How was that? Keep in mind that the personality is all speculation for now. I can change her into a biker chick by the time she appears in her next strip, if she ever does appear again. (I have no plans to bring her back any time soon.) It's merely fun to do these thought exercises.

I have to wonder if the readers have their own impressions of Ms. Bard.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The comic marathon

I know I said I didn't want to make this kind of post, but with this task dominating my life of late I have no other options for today.

I woke up this morning with 10 pages laid out and ready for sketching... so why not try to sketch ALL OF THEM in one day? Heck, why stop there? I'll ink them too! 10 pages? How hard can it be? (Note: During my recent workathons, the best I'd done before was taking four pages to ink in a day.)

So here I am, 12 hours after my insane resolution. How did it go? Seven pages have been sketched and inked. I don't think I've ever had a day this productive!

What finally did me in for the day was my blasted finger, who finally started to protest around hour eight. You might think it's bad that an injury incurred in 2010 is still causing me trouble, but I am THRILLED! I haven't been able to draw for this many hours since before the injury! (If one counts the motions of inking as drawing.) I'm sure I'll pay for all this effort tomorrow, but for tonight I can celebrate!

Oh, and it means the rest of June is now covered, aside from coloring. (Which can be partially outsourced, so woohoo!)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Get these out of my sight!

Behold: The great wall of Tiffany magnets! As I go forward with my donation drive, I hope for this wall to grow smaller and small until it disappears completely. C'mon, readers! Don't let me down! This donation drive is a first for me, so I'm very nervous about it. I hope my incentives are adequately incentivizing to everyone!

On the work front, I'm still slogging away to build up a buffer to cover a potential trip back to Virginia at the end of the month. I've exhausted all my scripts at the moment, but I've got some really good seeds of ideas that are beginning to sprout. That's my focus of the moment. Commission work has been on hold the past two days, but should resume tomorrow.

Friday, June 3, 2011

And now... FUTURE background characters!

Isn't this always the way things work? I scramble to get enough background characters for the latest strip, make the last post, take a loooooong nap and wake up... to find the forum finally came through for me! Now I suddenly have twice as many characters as available spots! I'm letting the first batch stay in the strip, but I wanted to reward the forum people for participating by sketching up their suggestions anyway. After all, it's only a matter of time before these folks will be called upon.

The sheepdog cameraman is actually the 5th background character I mentioned in the last post, so he will be appearing in the strip.

The ladies are a Wiemaraner and a Boykin Spaniel, based on a reader's pets. She asked for spaniel to appear younger than the other, and I probably went a little too drastic with that. Oops?

Another pet request came in the form of a black cat. The reader used the word "lucky" in his post and I decided to adopt it for the character, since black cats and luck are so intertwined.

Finally, I had a request for a leopard. When I grabbed a source image, I was amused at how apathetic the kitty looked and that ended up defining this character.

I've quite enjoyed designing all these new characters, and I may keep up with the fan requests even though I don't have a background character scheduled to appear in the strip for quite a while. I like the fun drawing challenge!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And even MORE background characters!

I had a strip coming up that required more extras, so I put out the call again. Here are four of the five that are slated to appear in that strip. (One person hasn't given me his character sheet yet.)

What have I learn from handing out all these cameos? That my sphere of influence is very finite. I... I think I've run out of friends and readers to cameo! Good thing I'm not planning on scripting any new cameo-friendly strips in the next couple months!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Commissions are magical!

I had just finished inking the borders of the latest batch of Precocious strips when a new commission opportunity ended up in my inbox. Well, heck, I'm waiting for the ink to dry and I'm not yet set up to work on the other commissions - why not start playing with this one right away?

This proposed commission has me illustrating a character for someone's RPG, a noble fox lady magician. It's kinda silly for me to have done anything with it yet, as I have no physical description aside from knowing she's a female fox, but I thought it would be fun. (And it was!) The final of this will almost certainly bear no resemblance to this sketch, but it was a nifty way to kill time while the ink dried!

The plan for the rest of the day is to finish inking next week's Precocious strips, rearrange my studio and jump into the grueling task of tracing for the other commissions. I also have to scan in the next Copper Road at some point, but I'm waiting until TWC remembers to hit the reset button on its vote counter. Oh yeah, and I was supposed to launch a Precocious promotion a few days ago. I hope to get to that later too. AHH! THERE IS FAR TOO MUCH TO DO TODAY!