On Vacation, BRB

Starting today, I will be on vacation. I’ll be back in the office August 12.

That means The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Indie Comics Hub, the email newsletter, KickStarter fulfillment, and email and Facebook page posts are ALL on hiatus.

These projects will come back online at various times. After August 12, keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

Thank you for your understanding, and I will see you again soon!

Custom T-Shirts, Anyone?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who really like some designs I do. And they’ve asked (sometimes urged) that I make these designs into a T-shirt.

Thing is, though, is that actually designing a T-shirt and getting it printed takes a lot of time – and it’s not something I wanna do for the poops and/or giggles.

If I’m gonna’ make a T-shirt, I’m not doing it for free, ya’ dig?

But I also don’t wanna’ get bulk orders of 1000 T-shirts. A LOT of shirt printers will do this: their machines are only set up to print off designs in bulk. I just don’t have the storage space to house 1000 T-shirts that I’m not wearing.

I DO know a handful of printers who can print 1 to 10 shirts at a time, though.

So I thought, “What if I started offering to make custom T-shirts for people?”

This idea also came from a Vlogbrothers video, in which Hank Green has a shirt that says, “Don’t Talk To Me About My T-Shirt or I’ll Put Forks in You.” A Nerdfigher designed and printed the shirt for him, and it’s the only shirt in existence. That design was (to my knowledge) not mass produced.

I saw that, and I was like, “I could do that!”

The big issue would be pricing these shirts, and I imagine this is where people would get turned off by it.

Just by my rough math, a custom, one-of-a-kind “Fork-In-You” quality individual shirt would cost:

  • One of the commission rates for the design – likely $25 for a black and white design, $60 for the color.
  • $10 for the shirt itself.
  • $10 shipping and handling.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I know anybody who would be ok with forking over $80 at most (or $45 at least) for a single custom T-shirt. Even if they knew they would be the only person on Earth with that specific design.

What are your thoughts on the matter, though?

How (and Why) I Script My Comics Like I Do

One of the backers of The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1 had asked to see some scripts for the comic as part of the PDF reward. This question made me realize that my scripting process is not like how I’ve seen other comics makers work on their scripts.

Why?

Well, most comic makers I know only WRITE the script. Usually in a movie-script-like format, in which it goes like this:

Panel 3:

Billy stares at Marc Macaw in disbelief. Marc Macaw realizes his gaff and smiles a bit sheepish.

BILLY: …I’M A DINOSAUR.

MARC: Right. Sorry. Stupid question. Let’s do a practice run, shall we?

Truth be told, this format is how I write my rough draft of my comic scripts.

The only comic I’ve made that this didn’t apply to was Johnson & Sir. That one, I wrote out the story page by page. It’s not a method I would recommend to anyone unless you’re writing gag comics.

My other comics, from Thoughtful Dinosaur to The Case of the Wendigo to The Legend of Jamie Roberts, have been scripted in this pattern:

  1. Rough Draft: type it up in my version of a comic script format.
  2. Second Draft: Read the rough draft and thumbnail the pages. I make adjustments as I go.

Sometimes the second draft is a re-typing of the rough draft. If that’s the case (like with The Case of the Wendigo), the thumbnailing stages will actually be my Third or even Fourth draft.

What are thumbnails?

This is a term I stole from animation – it means to VERY roughly sketch out how a page looks. I’m talking stick figures and bubbles. Thumbnails are in a sketchbook and are meant to just show how the page would look in a rough layout.

I find thumbnailing the pages to be helpful, even if I wait several months between the rough draft and the thumbnail draft (or, Thumb Draft, if you will).

When I work on the Thumb draft, I can sketch out how the page looks according to the script. And if I don’t like how many words a character says, or I don’t like how certain scenes pan out, I can draw a different result.

As a visual person, it helps me to SEE how a scene pans out, rather than just read about it.

So if you’re having an issue in your comic script, try drawing it out in rough stick fugure-ish form. It may help you visualize the scene easier.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

A long while ago I wrote a post about my inspirations. Some of those still hold true (looking at you, Paprika). Some, however, have moved to the shelf so I can focus on some new inspirations.

Here’s what been getting my creative juices flowing recently:

KINGDOM HEARTS 3

I loved this series as a teenager. Then I hated it. Now I’m back to enjoying it.

This series is NOT flawless. But it’s like a cup of tea with a bar of chocolate: the best self-indulgence you can get without thinking too hard about it.

Really, the series is at its best when you’re not thinking about the plot. Though, as SuperButterBuns put it, the plot isn’t that confusing: it’s just a lot to remember.

(I also do the Crash Bandicoot logic of boss fights, in that the bosses in the previous games didn’t “die.” They were just defeated once and then came back for Kingdom Hearts 3.)

So what about Kingdom Hearts 3 has been getting me inspired? Well, I’d be lying if I said anything other than “The Organization.”

Or seeing Woody from Toy Story tell one of the Organization members to piss off. That scene gave me SO MUCH LIFE.

Also, Kingdom Hearts fans will get this reference: Yeetas Vanitas.

There’s tons of silly, charming character moments in Kingdom Hearts 3 in particular. Is the voice acting as good as the Union Cross: Back Cover movie? Nope. But the character banter is on point, more so in this game than in any other Kingdom Hearts installment.

And, well, the Organization and the mystery behind each member just intrigues the hell out of me. Not to mention that the characters themselves make good warm-up sketching material. Every character looks and acts differently. And I appreciate that.

Ok, I’ll move on to the next piece of inspiration before I gush anymore:

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD

From Kingdom Hearts’ absolutely bonkers plot to a story with a damn-near flawless plot. Yes, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s story is so expertly woven that it’s really McFreaking Hard for me to find a fault with it anyplace.

Every character has a purpose. Every motivation makes sense. And the action of this series is driven by the motives of the characters, not some invisible hand dragging them by the nose under plot contrivance.

Also, much like Kingdom Hearts, the character designs for FullMetal are just superb.

Really, though, it’s the writing and how the story moves forward that’s been inspiring me the most. It makes me want to write.

I doubt I will ever write anything like Brotherhood. But it gives me something to aspire to, and a benchmark to look at whenever I lose focus.

TRIGUN

Above anything else, the humor (and one other thing) of this series has been inspiring me the most lately.

The other day I was marathoning this show in the background while I was doing studio work. And yet the show still makes me laugh, even when I’m not watching it directly.

There’s a soft spot in my heart for any character who fulfills the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass trope well, and Vash the Stampede is the best embodiment of this trope.

Also, the very first episode of this show is the best introductory episode of any anime I have seen thus far. Period. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself. You’re welcome.

Did you know Studio Ghibli (yes, THAT Studio Ghibli) did the animation of some episodes of Trigun? When I learned that, it blew my damn mind.

This is also another series with some damn good writing to it. But for a different reason: FullMetal’s focus was on the characters and motivation. Trigun’s focus in the writing is on the world-building, and Vash’s connection to it.

Once you see the conclusion of Trigun, you will realize there’s no other story like it. And that’s what inspires me.

That’s all for now. I’m gonna’ get back to drawing.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

P.S. Another fun fact that blew my mind: the English voice actor for Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts also did the voice of Detective Konakawa in Paprika. Now I can’t look at Xemnas half the time without thinking about Konakawa’s dream antics.

My Tumultuous Tumblr Relationship

I’ve had a Tumblr blog for I don’t know how long exactly. But how I’ve used it has always been a mixed bag.

Lately I’ve discovered the secret (or what I think is the secret) to Tumblr and using it successfully. But before I get to that, I want to make a quick statement of what doesn’t really work on that site

At least, in my experience.

KickStarter announcements – maybe just don’t share a link to your KickStarter campaign in a post on Tumblr. In my experience, those posts only get a lot of traction AFTER the campaign has ended. And that defeats the purpose of the whole process.

Original Art – this has always been a mixed bag. I don’t really know (personally) any artist who has made posting original illustrations on Tumblr popular. Comics? Maybe. Anthro art? Depends on the crowd. But original characters and comic concepts? Practically dead in the water upon arrival.

Social Justice posts – I know Tumblr has garnered a reputation for “filthy SJWs to make echo chambers” on the site, but actually no – that’s Twitter. The most common issue I see on Tumblr whenever someone tries to make a social justice-related post is someone retorting with a fact-check…or something that they THINK is a fact-check. To be honest, I have a side blog on Tumblr specifically for reblogging social justice-related posts, and those don’t get a whole ton of attention.

Here’s what DOES get attention in my experience:

FAN CONTENT.

Tumblr. Is a Site. For Fans.

Archive Of Our Own Fanfiction links? EVERYWHERE. Fanart of video games characters? CONTENT FOR DAYS. Posts dedicated to headcanons (or stuff that a fan made up that may or may not have a basis in the actual content, but they think would work in the official canon)? THERE ARE ENTIRE BLOGS FOR THIS SH*T. And these blogs can even be categorized as ones that are safe for work, or not safe for work.

I came to this realization fairly recently – and also because, of all the posts of my artwork that have gotten popular on my Tumblr blog, the most popular art posts are fanart.

There’s nothing wrong with a site dedicated to fandom. I think it’s great. Sites like Archive of Our Own are a testament to that.

But if you’re an original content creator looking to promote your work? Tumblr is not for you. Tumblr is a site for fans.

(If you’re making a fancomic, though, it’s something to consider).

To that end, I’ve been restructuring my Tumblr blog so that it IS based more in me geeking out about the content I like. So if you want to geek out with me, go check out the re-named blog.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.