The Love of Cartooning

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately.  Why?  Because I’ve finally been able to make good and start sending out rewards to our Kickstarter backers.  That’s been weighing on me for some time.  I like to deliver on my promises and keep my word.  So while it may be happening later than I had originally hoped, I’m getting to thank those people that were kind enough to support us.

It was very kind of them to help us out and enable us to achieve a dream, and I take a lot of pleasure in the fact that now I can bring them some joy and hopefully some entertainment.  And part of that is drawing a custom sketch and signing each copy.

Each backer got to pick what character they wanted me to sketch, and I’ve had a lot of fun fulfilling them.  Below you can see a gallery of the sketches I’ve done so far with the backer’s request in the caption.  They are displayed in the order they were drawn.

This has been fun for a few different reasons.  Fist off, I’m getting a chance to draw something different.  Don’t get me wrong, there is joy in drawing a story and my own characters, but it can also get a bit repetitive by the end of something lengthy, like finishing a graphic novel.

So focusing on some new subjects is a treat in itself.  Drawing things outside of a story is also nice.  While I do feel a certain amount of pressure to draw well so I’m making something a backer will enjoy, it is not the same kind of pressure I feel when working on each panel of TDM.  Plus, we all know it is a sketch, not a fully polished piece of art.

Generally I’m drawing these in about 5-10 minutes, so they aren’t labor intensive.  They are done with a pen, so there is no pencil prep work.  Every mark is there at the end, so if you make a mistake you just have to try to make it work.  Plus I’m drawing in the book cover, and I don’t exactly have books to spare each time I need to start a sketch over.  So that is a big difference from drawing digitally, where I CTRL+Z all the time and constantly questioning my lines.

That’s another thing, I haven’t drawn with pen on paper for quite awhile.  And I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  It really does make me think more about drawing the next book on paper and only adding certain elements (mostly the dialogue) digitally.  As much as I love all the cool advancements in technology that make drawing digitally amazing, there are somethings it can’t replicate, and experiences it can’t top.

The whole experience of just having fun drawing these sketches for people is very reminiscent of the way I drew as a child.  I would draw some of my original ideas mixed with a good helping of characters from things that I was into.  I drew a lot of Super Mario, Looney Tunes, Roger Rabbit, Ninja Turtles, Calvin and Hobbes, Earthworm Jim, Count Duckula, and especially Nickelodeon cartoons like Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats and Rocko’s Modern Life.

It’s funny that the sketch that has gotten the most attention so far has been Rocko, which is basically something you would have found hanging on my childhood wall.  The nostalgia for all these things is high with me, and apparently with a lot of our readers.

This gets me excited for something I’m going to be doing soon.  For a long time now, about 2 or 3 years, I’ve known I needed to get into prints if I wanted to succeed and make some money at cons.  It was not something I necessarily wanted to do, but that’s what the majority of attendees at these cons want to buy.  Especially prints of well known characters.

I didn’t want to get involved in that because I just wanted to tell the story of Black Snow.  I really didn’t want to pander to the crowds with fan service.  I just wanted to draw my original characters and tell their story.  I found the whole concept that people only want to buy your art if it depicts other people’s characters disheartening.

In all honesty part of me still feels that way.  But another part of me is really excited at the idea of drawing some beautiful homages to things I really love.  I’m sure it will end up sharpening my skills as an artist, especially if I take some commissions that force me into new realms outside my comfort zone (Black Snow sharing a bath with my high school classmate turned award winning comic artist Ben Costa?  Now I know who the Ghostface Killah is…).

I’m very much looking forward to coming up with some fun stuff, and already have a few in mind.  Plus I plan to make some prints showcasing Black Snow Comics’ characters as well.  Hopefully the attention from the prints will bleed into attention for the books as well.

By the time Stockton-Con comes around in August I plan to have some prints ready.  By the way, I didn’t make it into Comic-Con this year, I got wait listed.  So barring some unusual circumstances I won’t be attending.  I’m waiting for official conformation, but it’s very likely you’ll see me at Stockton-Con and APE, and I’m looking into a few others as well.

Hopefully this will all continue to be a lot of fun, which translates into a lot of fun for the buyer and reader as well.

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