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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Comic No More

I have a strip almost completed; but it has taken far too long to draw and paint. I would also like to thank Jennifer Diane Reitz for her Talcryl assistance.

But the days of E Motel as a "pure cartoon" are over. From now on, it's going to be an illustrated story, probably about three illustrations per chapter. Yes, I've thought of going back to a three-panel "strip", but I'm not certain I can even do that, the way things are now.

The main reason is that I now hold down a full-time job. I'm not used to a front-line role, let alone working with other people, so at the moment it's incredibly draining when I get home. Weekends are invariably dotted with interruptions: the olds wanting help with this and that.

A secondary reason is that I no longer enjoy drawing this damnable comic. It's too much work and effort. But I don't want to simply drop it and walk away; there's too damn many comics about like that already. "Reduce the workload and keep going" seems to the best way. Some readers — if there are any — will no doubt gripe and complain about having to read text rather than comic panels. Too bad. I want to finish the story, but I cannot draw it. Besides, comics are just a form of illustrated story anyway.

Finally, there are other pursuits I need to follow. E Motel, back in the heyday of 2003, was a valuable outlet for me, but I simply do not have time nor energy for it any more.

There is also another comic idea in the pipeline. I'm gathering sketches and ideas for it in time to get serious in 2008. I will not say any more except that it's less serious and more sci-fi, and hopefully less niche.

And then there's the book. I have to finish the book. And publish it somehow.

Have I learned anything from the experience of drawing this strip? Well, yes.

  1. Don't skimp on quality paper. When using wet stuff like watercolours or ink, 300gsm paper or denser.

  2. Plan out your stories in advance. Way in advance.

  3. Practise your drawing well before launch date.

  4. Enthusiasm isn't enough.

  5. Make notes. Lots of notes, and not just words. Sketch out landscapes, maps, people, things... nail it all down. Makes it easier to draw strips when you have enough references.

  6. Unplug the damn computer first thing. Otherwise you spend all day porn surfing, Second Lifing or gaming.

  7. 99% of readers won't utter a peep; 0.1% will say something positive; 0.1% will give constructive criticism; the rest are shadenfreude addicts.

posted by Cardboard at 11:52 AM 0 comments  

Friday, December 29, 2006

There'll always be a Basin...

It's taken me nearly six months of arsing about and putting-off, but I finally did it. Welcome to "Stu's Dream".

Those of you who know about cricket will recognise the place at once: It's the Basin Reserve in Wellington. I went down there in August and took some shots to make this panorama as reference.

Now, last time I looked at the cricket, both sides were wearing white. But what the hell? This is a dream, inspired by what came before, and I think West Indies wear yellow. As for the sickly amber wash all over the bottom panel, it's supposed to reflect the sodium streetlamp at the entrance to Opito Close (behind Stu.) You'll notice that I now put a couple of fairly big sand dunes in the middle of Te Kore instead of having it flat as a pancake like it was at the beginning!

So, why now? Easy. I got a new HP flat panel monitor for Christmas, thought I had to install drivers, and ended up scragging my computer. My attempts to fix it made things worse, so I'm now waiting for the local tech shops to reopen so they can fix it.

And I wanted something to do while I waited. :P

Frankly, also, I seem to have lost impetus with an internet connected computer in my room. Comics are bloody hard work, and surfing for porn is more fun and instantly gratifying than painfully pencilling, inking and colouring another episode in a denigrated art format.

Incidentally, I also started work on a book about comics! If you've ever read one of the Ginger Series from Awa Press, you'll have a good idea of what the book's going to be like.

And, finally, I may be in luck with a full-time job sometime soon. I won't say much more since the Bad Luck Gods read the interweb and know where I live.

Cheerrio - see ya later.

posted by Cardboard at 4:57 PM 0 comments  

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm sorry

I have a strip that I'm working on, but it's hard, very hard, to work on it.

The technical reasons are that there's a lot of detail and action poses, which knacker me in trying to get the lines in the right places. Also, I went into town and actually took reference photos for the establishing shot.

The personal reasons are that I've been trying to find work after my contract expires. So far nothing's panned out. I'm going to have to prepare for the dreaded benefit and stand-down, I'll warrant. No financial hardship; I've been virtually getting nothing over the benny all year.

But at the same time, I'm getting tired of following Stu and Greg and Layla all the time. I'll try to finish off the current story arc, but I think it's time to start concentrating on shorter stories, of various people who enter and leave the motel. This way I won't get drained by worrying about carrying on the main story.

But this month I'm concentrating on writing a manuscript, and it's intensive. I'll do my best to get the in progress strip done soon, but I'm unsure what'll happen next year.

posted by Cardboard at 1:23 AM 0 comments  

Friday, June 23, 2006

Once More

I finally put in a spurt today — only interrupted by lunch and the need to extract a laundry tub from its normal location — to get the latest comic done.

The next comic up is already panelled out, more or less, and partly pencilled. This is promising, and if I can, I'll try to have it done sometime in the next two weeks instead of months.

Yes, I want to get back to the halcyon days of 2003, when I was at the height of my creative powers. I want to get back to once-a-week production. And I haven't, yet, forsaken my dreams of something in paper. But currently I'm suffering from telescoped future anxiety; my contract is due to expire by December and I'm seeking work for the next year — preferably for longer term and higher pay. Which will probably mean less time for all my creative pursuits, so I need to get moving on them now.

We're also going to move house some time in the next month or two, and we've brought the house, so there's a lot of gardening and renovations to do yet. I've actually got inspiration from all that for when Greg starts clearing out that garden bed...

The latest strip as of the time of writing is also the first time Greg actually refers to his life in America. He was born and mostly raised in Oregon, so naturally he'd fall back to the team he supported for so long.

posted by Cardboard at 9:09 PM 0 comments  

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Exhibition News

First off, the balls-suckage known as Armageddon Plop-Culture Exposition is on this weak end, here in Wellington. I've read a brochure, and naturally what I saw... you probably already know.

Far more interesting will be what's happening in Aro St:
  1. there's an exhibition of local comics, and sales of same, at the Ron Barber Gallery (91 Aro) which opens 5pm this Friday, and runs 10-5 Saturday and Sunday.

  2. Down the road at the Aro Valley Community Centre, there will be talks delivered by Dylan Horrocks and Darren Schroeder at 4pm, followed by the Black River Digital Comics Awards at 7pm.

To get there, the quickest way is to go south along Willis Street. The street starts between the Old BNZ building and the new BNZ one (now owned by state, and enshrined in a book of NZ slang as "Darth Vader's dunny") and goes south. Just keep plugging down, and Aro is the next right (west) after Abel Smith St and before Webb (which has lights and goes left (east.) The gallery's on the left-hand side as you go up Aro, and if you reach the Four Square, you've gone too far.

Me... I've nothing prepared, except a Word document for making E Motel business cards, and some coloured card from the $2 Shop. So on Friday I'll probably roll up with a stack of those and drop 'em off. I could try making a quick 8-page booklet from the "Alien Review" (c. Jan. three years ago), but cards'll do the job just as effectively.

I'll try to take a few snaps as well. I mean, blimey! I could be going in and out of town like a yo-yo...

posted by Cardboard at 5:30 PM 0 comments  

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New look, new post, new embarrassing stains, so what

Yes, it's a new look for the E Motel! Greg got some web editing tools, and made a better site than existed five years ago.

Anyway, we're getting into a mini-arc where Greg learns he has more in common with Layla than he realised. And, also, it occurred to me during my Easter Satyrday of Drunkenness that if Layla was ready to capitalise on her uniqueness, she'd urge Greg to do so too. Hopefully, IRL, this'll mean more work on prepping a paper comic and maybe a CafePress shop too. Current ideas are more about souveneirs of nothing real, but what the hell?

posted by Cardboard at 2:58 AM 0 comments  

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Two steps back

Artist's Block. Honestly. I've had a half-done strip rattling around in my bag for over a month now, but until today I hadn't figured out why I didn't want to work on it.

It was all kluged and wrong. I'd forgotten Layla's alchemist glasses, her head was too big, the perspective in the establishing scene was shot, and the whole stimulus/response sequence was too squashed — not to mention that I had a better idea about executing the "response" part halfway through. Too many missteps, too many restarts, meaning a ruined artwork. Now I'm more than a little frugal, and don't like the idea of scrapping precious art paper and starting over. So I'm having to learn that, having fallen off the cartooning wagon last year, it's going to take more than good intentions to get back on that sucker.

So into the bin it goes. I'll just have to restart the whole thing and spread it out over two strips. It'll take longer, but then so has the revamp. I'm starting to get the idea that Greg and Layla's walk home is going to feature Layla rather more prominently than before, and their talk is going to be serious enough that their relationship will make significant advances.

posted by Cardboard at 12:11 AM 0 comments  


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