Friday, August 30, 2013

Don't Bother Painting That Beautiful Fresh Snowfall

In our cozy little town, once in a while, the local-artist community has a bit of a neighbourhood tour, where they'll put their art in their garages and have interested shoppers/art supporters visit (and of course they cross their fingers hoping somebody, ANYBODY, will buy something).

There are some terrific artists around here and there is plenty of inspiration to be found in town; beautiful wildlife, incredible sunrises, fluffy and colourful bushes, flowers, waterways and quaint streets/shops that are an artists' dream to capture on canvas.

So, when one of the neighbours down the street had a sign at the end of his driveway indicating he was on the tour, my wife and I strolled over and snooped through his garage to check his work out. There were some great paintings for sure, but my favourites are the winterscapes. They're serene and subtle, there's something peaceful about the undisturbed snow during a sunrise. Plus, depending on the medium, the texture of paint on canvas lends itself so nicely to the shape and texture of snow on an evergreen's branches.

I asked the painter/neighbour why he didn't do more winterscapes, because they were so beautiful - - and he responded quickly, as if he'd done one too many winterscapes already, by saying "Nobody buys them."

And there it was, the corruption of commercialism in the face of artistry. To think you'd be stymied from artistically expressing yourself because not enough people would agree with you to make it worth while? Now THAT'S an artist, am I right!?

That's obviously the inspiration behind Studio Lesson:
(I also liked the painting the painter is working on - - giving hate the middle finger :)

Safety Citation
I see my kid climbing all over everything, and of course health and safety are important facets of any good business. This is one of my favourtie Business Man comics so far!

Stilt Merchants
As for SIRI on Beard-o's SmartPhone, I like that there's a poor, minimalist v. consumerism debate going on between the two - - however subtle/nonexistent. I guess what I'm saying is I'd LIKE there to be more of a philosophical struggle between SIRI and Beard-o (as would be inspired by Bill Watterson's work with Calvin & Hobbes). We'll see what the future holds in store. Most importantly about this comic, is how much these characters despise each other, yet still stand across the street and face off every single day.

I'd been sitting on this joke for ages, obviously the Greek debt crisis is OLD news, but the joke finally made the list of comics to write. So here it is!

Friday, August 23, 2013

In 1904 Parents Washed Out Your Mouth With What!?

I've always wondered why Dr. Seuss had to take such liberties with the "English" language to get his rhymes -- and it bothered me. He was just being silly, but I thought it was a little unfair that he could make words up to make his stories flow.

Now that I've read many of his stories over again with our little one I realize that what appeared so inane not long ago, is a terrific teaching aid for anyone who's learning to read. The similarities and differences between words really illustrates the phonics and graphics of a word -- which will be really handy when our first born starts to read on his own (and before that with our help, of course).

BUT all of that said, there's GOT to be some reason Seuss turned to this beyond the pure pedagogic intentions. My best guess is that children from 1904 were raised by parents who washed his mouth out with something a whole lot worse than soap. If Seuss had to enter into some Jewish version of Pig Latin to express himself, it must have been awful. Something that could only be conceived by the mind of a German beer-maker who lost his brewery due to prohibition.

When your father immigrates to New England to live out his dream to be a successful German brewer to only have the Yankees enter into prohibition, I'll BET you learn some interesting words around the house, too.

Without further ado, here are some other thoughts on some of the latest comics we've had up on Spring Chickens.
Way Down There
The stilts were an idea I came up with to introduce a new character to King St. - - someone who was a bother to me LONG before I met Mr. Minestrone or Beardo. He just lived over on Parkhill so I never really made the connection between him and King St.

I thought, what could be the wackiest setup I could think of, which I could have interrupted by this new character? Beardo on stilts seemed like a good fit. However, I liked the idea so much, that I thought of a couple ways it could pay off - - so you can expect some more stilts in the future on King St.

Gogh for It
A friend on Facebook made a status update "I could cut my ear off" and my immediate response was "Gogh for it!" but .... I didn't write it. He seemed in genuine anguish and I didn't feel like leaving graphic evidence that I'm a big jerk. I mean, I AM a big jerk, but leaving proof for everyone to see isn't my style.

But believe me, when I read your Facebook status, my immediate and default response is pure "Jerk."

(And yes, I did fashion the anguished guy off of Ernie from Sesame Street ... )

Employee Ownership
My biggest concern about employee ownership is the divestment of ownership after you no longer want to have it - - I mean, who buys this stuff from you?
And what happens when you own part of a business, like a German start-up brewery, and then the States institute prohibition again - - how do you get your money out of it THEN? You lose your job and all your investments, too -- yikes.

I'm not against Employee Ownership, I just wonder how you'd ever leave or retire. Or what to do with all that unsold home-brew left over. Would you use it to wash your kid's mouth out when he swears around the house, obviously leading to a whole new insane world of Zizzer Zazzer Zuzzs, Gecks and Wumps?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Outfitted - - Behind the Scenes of Tomb of the Undead

Here's just a quick post from one of the more recent scenes at Tomb of the Undead: Outfitted. Before running into the Third Act for the script, I took a few days read and edit and tidy it up. After doing the artwork for the story up to this point, and getting a bit more familiar withe pacing of how the graphic novel works (for me, at least) I knew that some of the scenes would be WAY too long, so it had to be reworked.

That being said, I simplified some concepts down and reduced some dialogue and worked on the beat structure to get it into more manageable segments.

An example is this scene, in particular. Quick and easy, one page, tells a little story/character development, but doesn't drag ass. NOW, on the other hand, I totally dragged my ass while drawing and publishing it, but that's my problem, not the readers'. So I hope you felt it was quick and to the point and offers some cohesion and transition, which you don't ever want to be caught without.

Another discovery/admission I have is this: when I'm entering into a new setting that I haven't really figured out yet, I take FOREVER to get it designed in the rough stages and really struggle in finishing the page. Now, after I've established a setting, I can run the characters around in it without too much difficulty, but initializing the material is a different task altogether.

In any case, I hope you liked it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kate Middleton, Office Space and Complete Disasters

I make a lot of illogical connections in my head - - and I've made some exceptionally loose connections between my characters and things like Hurricane Katrina, the Duchess of Cambridge, Ron Livingstone in Office Space and my cat Indiana Jones, to make a few more jokes .

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FEMA Response, Feline Contempt, Cover Letters and Ship Christenings
Some more behind-the-scenes stuff on a few comics - - the latest of which is FEMA Response in the King St. Capers. I'm far ahead with the Capers, and I usually have the art complete more than a month before it's published, whereas the other comics are usually only a few weeks ahead of time.

What happens when I'm ahead like this, I feel like a comic is "old news" by the time it goes live, whereas it's still sitting scheduled and ready to go. It's kind of weird.

FEMA Response is the comic I was alluding to in an earlier post when I'd jotted down the idea while working on an earlier comic.

As for Feline Contempt, the idea originated from my own cat, of course. Indiana Jones always seems to upset that she's not being fed enough, when of course, she has plenty kibble, but would prefer her wet food. She can be bothersome (I don't like having a wet nose rubbed all over me. It's like I'm being painted with a highlighter).

Anyhow, she just had this impression like she was so full of contempt, but of course was helpless to serve her own wet food. This joke was just a snapshot into a grouchy cat's mind. And, no doubt, I'm sure you'd recognize the cat's design to resemble "Grouchy Cat," too.

The Business Man @ Home joke was a bit of a takeoff on Office Space and the classic dialogue surrounding the new coverletters we're putting on each of the TPS reports now. Didn't you get that memo?

I can't imagine any office-themed joke goes very far before it flutters upon the "memo gag." And of course, this is the second post in this series, and here we are. For the record, I didn't draw the child's art - - I cut and paste it from a Google search.

The final product didn't mention the "memo" or "TPS Reports" or anything like that, but the joke is firmly rooted in an homage to Office Space.

The last joke on here was "Ship Christening," which is sort of a personal favourite. My wife and I were watching the news and the Duchess of Cambridge was christening the Nebuchanezzer in June. I laughed at what a waste it was to bother shattering a bottle of champagne, and the first thing to come out of my mouth was basically this joke as you see it.
I thought it was funny, anyhow. In my "research" to get this comic done, I took pointers from this image.

Those poor champagne-less kids in Africa, right?

Anyhow, there's a little insight into the goings-on of where some of these jokes come from. No doubt, joking around with my wife is a great source of inspiration - - and she's come up with a classic idea or two in her time, which I'll credit gratefully when the time comes to publishing them.

Thanks for reading, and if there are absolutely any questions about any of these series, ask away, and I'll answer them as best as I can. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Mystery of Mr. Minestrone | Behind the King St. Capers

Here's a different example of how things work sometimes:
Epic Fail, To Do List, Hat Vendor and Abbey Road
Recently I've changed my pattern a little bit.Before, I'd dedicate a week to writing only Capers, or only comics or only Tomb of the Undead, but instead, now I'm drawing up a mixture of strips at a time, including Business Man @ Home, too. It brings more variety to my week.

But this example came before that switch, and after building a deep catalog of King St. Caper strips, I realized a change was a good idea. So a Caper, a regular webcomic, plus a Business Man @ Home, and whatever else is floating my boat at the time is generally what I"m working on at any given time.

This page, however, is probably the last time I wrote four Capers in one week, and likely will be the last. 

I've produced a "schedule" which shows which strips I'm well prepared for, and which I'm lagging behind in, indicating where I should focus attention the next week.

In any case, the first comic here is "Epic Fail," which had a big response on Twitter when it was published.

I suppose the "Epic Fail" meme is still flooding the Internet, which is good to see. It's not what I had in mind when I wrote it, but I'm happy to take the extra pageviews (however modest the increase was). The pure truth is - - Mr. Minestrone wrote this comic. He actually gave me a pair of godawful haircuts where I felt exactly like this. Now it's a stupid comic. Thanks Mr. Minestrone!

"To Do List" was next. While not hilarious (to me anyhow), the joke does get into Mr. Minestrone's professional philosophy. I mean, who's THAT terrible at haircuts? What could be his motive? WHY is he still doing this as a career?
Perhaps it's an opportunity to pursue his vices? I mean, if a meth-head had a job where he could be as high as shit and work at the same time, you think he'd be looking for a new job?

I also think this teases the idea that Mr. Minestrone knows full-well what he's doing: giving awful haircuts. There's something mischievous about him - - like he's MEANING to do it.

Truth be told, he's still a mystery, even to me. I'll bet he has some more surprises up his sleeve for me and everyone else in the future. Especially with the Salty Advice he's been giving lately.

"Abbey Road" was a highly, highly requested comic. I'm happy to take fan input when writing a joke, and this was no exception.
Again, it was inspired by the strip "Buncha Stooges."  Matching the colours and everything was a lot of fun. While the imagery might be a little crass, or thematically fitting in line with the King St. Capers, the colour-matching was a big success.

As well, the man in the background in the original cover art, who is represented by Mr. Minestrone, was named Paul Cole, who died in 2008, who said some surprising things that fall in line with the artwork, to my astonishment.

He says about the Abbey Road cover:
"I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks," Cole remembered. "A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn't walk around in London barefoot."

It's all a coincidence that the ducks and "Buncha Stooges" resembles Cole's thoughts so precisely.

Of all of these strips, my personal favourite was "You Could Use a Hat," which I saved for last. I would usually put my favourite joke at the front of the schedule, but ... this ties into a series of other jokes, whereas the others in this slate of jokes were more "stand alone."

This specially means, you'll be seeing more of the Surveyor and his hat enterprise in the near future, and how Beardo and Mr. Minestrone may react to his hat enterprise.

This was obviously inspired from personal experience: I left his barbershop and immediately wished I had a hat. I'd bet I would have paid a pretty penny for a hat right then and there.

Thanks for reading, and if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter of Facebook.