Right at the eleventh hour, I finished my blog archive image for 2016. While pretty much everyone agrees that 2016 was a train-wreck of a year, I won't be able to join in with calling it the "worst ever." My daughter Suzanne was born early in 2016, so it was a special year for me, with a lot of new experiences and many special memories.
I make a list of projects each year and in 2016 I only got about half of my list completed. I'm basically going to just scratch out "2016" at the top of it and write "2017" and hope that I can finally finish off the rest of the list this year.
My loose New Year's Resolutions are:
- Spend less time on social media.
- Try to finish off projects working for other people so that I can free up more time for my own creative projects in 2018.
- Keep abreast of real news and do my small part to fight against injustice.
- Work hard enough to afford (and hopefully increase) the monthly donations my wife and I are making to the NAACP, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
- Spend as much time as possible with Suzanne.
A year ago today I launched my webcomic for kids, Isle of Elsi. I successfully posted a new page every Thursday this year (53 in all!). I am proud of myself for not missing an update. As I head into year two, I am trying out some new, smaller goals for my Isle of Elsi Patreon campaign. It was a quiet year for this blog, but only because I was busy writing two posts a week (Tuesday and Saturday) for the Backer Blog. I'm as proud of the content I'm generating in there as I am of the comic itself. Check it out!
I'm very close to being done with three different projects, including the next issue of Phase 7, so hopefully I'll have something new to blog about soon. In the meantime, Happy New Year, everyone! Have fun tonight because tomorrow 2017 begins and we all have a lot of work to do, to turn things around!
This year for my Christmas present, Claire agreed to watch Suzanne for an entire day so that I could draw my 16th 24-Hour Comic. When I was 20, I swore that I would draw one 24-Hour Comic a year for the rest of my life. We'll see how much longer I can keep that up...
I have already lost more sleep this year than any other year of my life, hands down. For the two weeks leading up to this, Claire and I were trying to get Suzanne on a new sleep schedule, which was pretty brutal. When I started at 12:01am on Saturday, December 17th, I was already very tired. By the time it was done, I was utterly exhausted. Two days later and I'm still trying to recover. It's a lot harder at 37 than it was at 20! :P
Instead of drawing an improvised comic, I decided to use this opportunity to make a dummy of a children's book that I have been thinking about a lot for the last few months. I spent the first hour thumbnailing it out. It ended up at 40 pages, but I tried to just focus on the first 24, which I successfully finished (25 actually) at 10:37pm on Saturday, December 17th.
I'm not going to post the pages online for a few reasons: 1) They are not very good. My whole life I have wanted to make picture books, and I have had many false starts over the years. Only now, as a parent who is reading a lot of picture books day in and day out, do I feel like I'm finally ready to make my own. But I'm new to this. And so, like most things that one tries out for the first time, it's not very good. It is a rough draft that still needs a lot of work. 2) I want to do the work that it needs, to make it a better book, and someday draw it for real and release it. So I don't really feel like posting a super rough draft online.
Now, drawing rough drafts of 25 pages of a 40-page picture book is stretching the definition of a 24-Hour Comic to the extreme. I do believe, that to a well-orgaized mind, picture books are comics. But I only drew 18 images, and I didn't even ink them. Furthermore, I decided to try and write it in verse (which was probably a mistake, given how tired and sluggish my mind was) so I also just printed out the text and pasted it in.
Given all that, was this thing even a 24-Hour Comic? Probably not, but I don't care. I'm still counting it. I still got to that place creatively, where I was so deep into it that the project seemed to be coming together of its own accord and I was just channeling it. I'm probably going to use this same approach for my next 24-Hour Comic, which is already scheduled for March (I'll be running a 24-Hour Comic event at UWM, like I did back in 2015). I don't have time these days to spend weeks and/or months working on the first draft of a picture book, but I can use this challenge to knock out a dummy in a day. I've got a lot of picture book ideas bouncing around in the back of my mind, so this seems like a great way to get them down on paper.
Anyway, above you can see the one spread I was most pleased with. The story takes place in the mid-50s and is about beatniks. I hope that I'll be able to share it all with you someday!
This fall I started a new job at The Center for Cartoon Studies; I am now their Director of Academic Outreach.
The goal of this new position is to connect with graphic novel reading classes in English departments, comics classes in art departments, and extracurricular comics clubs at colleges and universities around the country. The idea is to share some of the comics expertise that we have built up at CCS over the last ten years while also letting undergraduate students who are passionate about comics know about the various opportunities at CCS, including our Master of Fine Arts degree. Basically, I'm trying to find students like me, at age 20: obsessed with comics, but with not a lot of available resources at my current school. I know they're out there...
If you, or anyone you know is interested in having me speak with their college-level comics class or club, we are offering free 30-minute video conference lectures, and I'm available to fly out to your school to lead 1-3 day workshops for a fee. More information is available on the CCS Academic Outreach webpage.
I'm also busy right now getting ready for the 2017 CCS Summer Workshops. As usual, I'll be co-teaching Create Comics from June 19-23 with my old buddy Jon Chad and then from June 26-30 I will be teaching an all new workshop: Beginning Animation!
Over the past few years I have been hired to do a number of small animations. Afterwards, I found that the creation of those animations really influenced my cartooning in a positive way. My hope for the workshop is to explore this point of intersection between comics and animation. We are going to draw lots of flipbook experiments, and then create a hand-drawn walk cycle and a looping animated GIF, all using pencils and paper (and Photoshop). We're also going to watch a lot of cartoons! It should be a ton of fun, and I hope lots of people will sign up to join me for a week in Vermont this summer!
More info is available on the CCS Summer Workshop webpage.
I'm super busy right now, trying to wrap up some big projects before the end of the year. If I can get one or more of them done, I'll post about it here. If not, I'll likely do so early in the new year. Either way I hope that everyone has a relaxing, peaceful winter break. Rest up, because we all have a lot of work to do in 2017!!!