Well. Inkwell, that is.

18 Dec

A subject never much discussed in the cartoonist profession is this:  Inkwells.

What is an inkwell?

As an old-fashioned (I hate that phrase, but I guess it applies here) illustrator, I prefer using a dip-pen and black India ink with all of my work.  This day and age, many cartoonists use digital line drawing instead.  And yeah, I’m not there yet.  It’s either because I’ve never honestly tried the digital method of drawing or because I like having originals lying around the studio.  Whatever the reason, I like my way of doing things.

Using a dip-pen and ink requires something to hold the ink in.  That, my friends, is an inkwell.  Make sense?  Sure.

So, for years I’ve used just a plastic container that the original ink arrived in.  It’s worked.  But, they’ve been hard to clean and not exactly pleasant to look at.  And trust me – they MUST be cleaned.  The ink gets very blotchy and gooey after awhile.  After numerous dabs of putting the nibs on the pen onto paper, the paper scraps sometimes sticks and then ends up in the ink.  It looks like a tar pit after awhile.


Above:  Hard to see, but that’s a plastic, black inkwell there smothered in ink.

I decided to go all-out and buy myself a nice new inkwell.

It’s glass and looks like something from the 1700’s.  And I like it.


Above:  My spiffy-new glass inkwell.

I’ve already noticed a difference in ease with use.  And it’s clear so I can see what’s doing down there and when I may have to clean the sucker out.


Above: The spiffy-new inkwell in its new home.

When I mentioned before about there not being much discussion among cartoonists I was right.  I’ve tried searching the internet to see what some of the pros are using for inkwells and couldn’t find anything.  I probably should’ve just asked one or two of them, but that would require an email.  And I haven’t asked any of the ones I know since I typically don’t think about inkwells in mid-discussion.

If you’re not a cartoonist, this may have been quite an uninteresting post.  But, either way, now you know about the magic of an inkwell and what they do.  You can run out and tell all your friends or try using one yourself.  They’re fun, frustrating, messy and used to be a mandatory product.  I use one daily.  Will I ever go digital?  I don’t know.  Does digital come with an inkwell?


I’m hoping it continues to work (ink) well.

Another Kick At It

11 Nov

Back in 2013 I tried to launch a Kickstarter for a new graphic novel I was working on called Don Giovanni.  Suffice it to say, it didn’t go spectacular.  It did gain some backers though and excitement for the project.  But, I had quite a few details for the campaign that weren’t very realistic.  It needed some work.  I asked for way too much money to hit financially (in case you didn’t know, Kickstarter relies on cash contributions from the community to hit a goal set by the creator and in return the contributors get a piece of the project), I didn’t pitch it well and there are other tidbits in the campaign I would’ve done different.  Anyway, it didn’t pan out.  I raised some money, but if you don’t raise enough and hit your goal, you don’t get any of the money and the project fails.  It can sting a little, I’ll be honest.

Don Giovanni CoverAbove:  An original promo for the novel.

Though it failed on Kickstarter, Don Giovanni is a graphic novel I’ve never lost passion for.  Since 2013, I’ve actually re-written it, edited all the text and changed the whole perspective of how it comes together from the original plan.  I’ve been working on it for years.  I’ve made it better (at least in my perspective) and am actually glad it failed raising enough money to publish back in 2013 now.  I know I have a better quality graphic novel on my hands to create.  I’ve learned a lot since then.

Therefore, I have a nice handy-dandy script in front of me, the character design, layout, etc.  What to do next?

I’ve thought about another go at a crowd sourcing platform for it.  I may use a different one this time (so there’s no confusion on Kickstarter) and see what happens.  Admittedly, I’m not great at these (crowd sourcing).  Most successful campaigns have a huge following and – though I have thousands of readers of my cartoons in print and online daily – I feel like I have readers but not a real big actual following of me personally.  I wish I knew each fan/reader on a one-on-one basis though so I could tell them about the project.  They might get as excited about it as me.

All this being said, it may not be easy trying this again.  However, I think it’s worth it.  The BIG picture would be publication from an actual publisher.  But having a physical copy of a completed novel first is probably the best way to go.  Baby steps.

Fail or succeed with crowdfunding, I’ll be completing this graphic novel in my lifetime.  It’s well on its way.  I just don’t want to imagine it being locked up in my drawer with no one seeing it if I never get a way to publish it either myself or something else.  Worth a shot trying to get it funded first.  I know it’ll be good.

Now it just needs completed….


A Flying Prediction

30 Oct

I’m going to make a prediction.  No, I’m not part of the Psychic Friends Network, but I can see this happening.

hqdefaultAbove:  No.  This is not me.

What am I talking about?


Yes, those little boogers that have been slowly creeping up in the headlines over the past few years.  You’ve heard about Amazon potentially using them to deliver packages, hobbyist eating them up and the military taking advantage of the things.

So what’s my prediction?

I believe they are going to be a disaster.

Already, I see trouble with them.

Anytime you have a flying object that has the potential of getting out-of-control (which happens almost daily if you read the news) it’s going to be trouble.

And there’s more.

I’ve already had one outside my window hovering in front of me.  Seriously.  I live four stories up.  Why was it there?  I have no clue.  There was a little festival going on below, so that probably had something to do with it.  But, this leads me to believe there is going to be a HUGE increase of peeping Toms (I was eating cereal in my boxers).  Therefore, more creeps.

I bet as people get these for Christmas gifts, they will cause plane crashes, death, lawsuits, annoyance (like in my situation with one outside my front window) and who knows what else.

The military should be able to get away with using these.  They seems some-what smart about how they operate the things and I’m sure they have access to ensure a safe flight path.

As for little Johnny down the street who just opened a drone up from Santa?  Well…

I’m going to leave it at that.

I probably sound like an old man yelling, “Damn technology!”  And I love new tech products.  Really, I do.  I’m just not a fan of these drones.  They’d be fun to play around with in an underpopulated area like my old residence out in Kansas, but for practical use, eh – I can’t see them working out well.

And who wants to see a bunch of ugly propeller-driven robots in the sky?  They’ll be like that annoying neighbor who snow blows his driveway with his extremely loud snowblower first thing in the morning after a beautiful snowfall – ruining the moment.  You see a nice sunset and you’ll have an ugly robot mosquito hovering by.  Or use a better analogy.  That’s my lame one.

Yes, it’s cool technology.  But, if they start becoming as popular as everyone predicts (another prediction), again, I see them being a disaster.

We’ll see if I’m right.  Remember this blog post.  I give it several years, but disaster is going to ensue if these drones ‘take-off’ (no pun intended).

Don’t believe me?  Call a Psychic Friend.  See what they say.

A Food Fiasco

24 Oct

My wife is pregnant (as many of you know).  Somehow, I caught the cravings that she is supposed to have.  Yesterday, my diet consisted of Burger King, cookies, casserole, chocolate covered pretzels and Reese’s.

I’m ashamed for eating like this, but boy, I’ve been really enjoying it.

Fast Food Insurance (1)It will come to an end soon.  Honestly, it will.  I consider myself pretty health conscience.  I workout, do cardio and when it comes to eating, well, typically it’s not THAT bad.  I eat a lot of salad, chicken and try to avoid red meat.  I hear that’s better for a person, so I go along with it.  Plus, I don’t drink pop, typically I don’t eat sweets and mostly drink water.  My biggest vice – up until this point – is coffee.  Oh, and the occasional craft beer (however, that’s just maybe once or twice on the weekend).  See, I’m good.

But again, I have the cravings now.  I’ve heard of this happening to other husbands.  I believe it’s a mental thing and I just use my wife being pregnant as an excuse to eat like crap, but I’m taking it and running with it.  Just like the sleeping in that I mentioned yesterday, this too is a trend that won’t be going on for long.  I’m just taking advantage.  God forbid I teach my daughter to eat bad.  Nope.  I’ll be the prime example of health.  (Except, of course, when there’s a donut sale down the road at Tim Hortons.)

Today should be a bit better.  I devoured all the chocolate pretzels – so no more of those.  But, unfortunately there are still Reese’s in the freezer.  Oh, and cookies.

I guess I’ll be ashamed for my eating maybe one more day.

But boy, is it tasty.

Taking Advantage

23 Oct

I mentioned earlier this week about waking up early and writing.  Well, I’m happy to say I’ve been waking up early – just not always writing.  Plans changed a bit when I thought about it more.

With a newborn on the way anytime now, I’ve been waking up around 6 am.  However, when it dawned on me that this might be my last chance in years to sleep in, I’ve been opting for staying in my cozy bed.  I give my snooze button a fist-bump and venture back into slumberland.

Counting Sheep Baby (1)

I know it sounds like an excuse, but it’s one of those pros vs. cons situations.  I really feel like I might regret it later on in life if I actually did wake-up early and didn’t take advantage of the sleeping in.  At least I can look back on this time and feel like I made it worthwhile.  And I get to leave a nice dent in my pillow while I’m at it.

Writing is definitely worthwhile, too.  So, when baby Ella arrives, I plan on sticking with – well – my plan.  Early writing.  Even when I have nothing to say.

So for now, you may seen afternoon writings (like today).  Or, the occasional no-writings.  If my daughter is anything like she is right now in mom’s belly, she’s a night owl.  That means random posts at anytime between midnight and 4 am.  We’ll call them can’t sleep writings.

I only have a few days – possibly weeks – of sleeping in.  I’m taking advantage.  Those zzzz’s days are numbered.  Luckily, the number of posts are not.

One Peek

21 Oct

It’s absolutely none of my business, but I’d love to see what some other cartoonists make.

Why do I say that?

Well, I’m just curious.  As this industry (the cartooning industry, of course) evolves, I’m constantly searching out the best direction to go with my work.  I have thousands of gag cartoons that have been produced through the years, a few graphic novel ideas, strip features that have come and gone and also have been thinking about creating a more teen book (think ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid‘ type).  With all that being said, everything I do takes time to produce.  What should I focus on?

Need to Focus copy (1)

For example, there are cartoonists out there that produce nothing but graphic novels.  Okay.  That’s great.  But I wonder if that’s how they make all their income?  Just off that?  I do know – from experience –  a book has to sell EXCEPTIONALLY well for it to bring in even a few bucks.  Yet, from my view point with Facebook and being online, it doesn’t seem like these cartoonists I speak of could possibly pull that off (but they look like they are online).  That being said, I know of a few that probably are.  But, most of them?  Eh, not too sure.  I also don’t get to see their pay stubs, so who knows.  I just hear about them locking themselves in a room for six months completing the thing and I think to myself, Who can afford to do that?

And syndication these days.  I’m not even sure if a syndicated cartoonist is doing all that well financially.  Newspapers continue to decline and the market is dismal.  BUT, I do know there are full time syndicated cartoonists out there.  And I’ve taken my shot of syndicating my work (in fact, I currently have yet ANOTHER submission out there).  I’m syndicated online, and honestly, it’s not enough money to keep the lights on.  It pays – but not a ton.  I have to have other work included.  I’m talking about print syndication here.

Then there are these web cartoonist that say they’re producing enough income to support themselves.  I know some are – but I wonder how much?  I swear most of them have web skills to enable them to come up on search results and so-forth to bring in the readers.  But I don’t know for sure.  I’m just guessing.

I ask the question about how much certain cartoonists are making because I do have a lot I want to do and sometimes you have to sacrifice one project for another.  I wonder what I should maybe focus on at times.

A lot of my current work brings in income from a tiny bit here, a bundle there and a sprinkle from that over there.  I have a lot of different sources (syndication, self-syndication, greeting cards, book sales, licensing, client work, the occasional magazine sale and selling original work).  I’d love to have a more solid, consistent ground for it.

Of course, I have to love what I do as well.  And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t do something if I hated it.  I find I enjoy new areas though of all forms of cartooning, so my niche is really anything I focus on.  And even with that, I’ll probably always still do my daily gag cartoons (I’m just rather fond of them).

If there are cartoonists out there making a pretty consistent, solid amount off a certain product, I’d like to know what.  And maybe I would devote more time to that area.  Cartooning – though it’s a passion – it is a business too, you know.

You can never compare your income to someone else – and I’m not.  But if I could just once – just ONCE – have a peek inside the bank account of every cartoonist out there, I wouldn’t be as curious and might give me a better idea of where to take my own skills.

I might find that I’m doing everything the right direction already.


Is Good Grammar Dead?

20 Oct

I like to think that my grammar is pretty decent.  Sure, it’s not perfect.  I’d love to have a proofreader sitting on my shoulder when I write.  If I think of my writing and give it a score, I’d say I’m around 75% correct with using good grammar most of the time.  Yes, I slip up.  It’s often times on my cartoons.  And if you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll notice there are some common grammatical errors.  There will probably be a few in this post.

The more and more everyone is into the quick gratification of texting, Facebook statuses and typing without thinking twice, I wonder:  Is Good Grammar Dead?

I’m not a Grammar Nazi.  Trust me – I’m not (again, since I’m so imperfect when it comes to my own writing).  However, I do have a fine-line where bad grammar does get to me.  Like, when it’s really bad.

It’s funny to me because on social media, you often read these political posts or argumentative stuff, and the person trying to make a statement can’t even grammatically use ‘there’ and ‘their’ correctly.  But they think their right when making a statement.  I find that ironic.

Does anyone even care though?

At this rate and the way things are going, is grammar something that eventually will disappear and we’ll just type or write whatever we want without any grammatical correctness?

The evidence out there is showing that perhaps there will be a point where there is no such thing as “correct” grammar.  Again, just look at your Facebook feed.  You could probably spend hours combing trying to correct the incorrect grammar with the statuses from just the last 5 minutes.  Much of it is cringe-worthy.

Again, does anyone care?

I do.  To a point, I actually do.

I think having decent grammar at least gives a persons writing a solid foundation.  At least it’s a good starting point.  When giving up on that, it can make an individual look – well – stupid.  Let’s be honest.

And depending how well your grammar is, an English Major may consider even a person like me ‘stupid’ considering some of the mistakes I make.  However, I’m proud to say that at least I try.  Even on Facebook, if I leave a status, I double-check to make sure it’s as accurate to the point where I think it’s right (even if it’s not).

So, I believe I’m about 75% correct with good grammar the majority of the time.  I hate to say it, but it seems like the general public might be below that.  I guess that makes me pretty happy with my writing in general.  Yes, having a proofreader will be miraculous, but since it’s me, I’ll do what I can.  I’ll have the occasional oopsy daisy – but that’s life.

If anything, let’s just hope the obituary for when Grammar does pass away is correctly written.

Mornings Done Write

19 Oct

I’m going to start practicing waking up early and writing.  I’ve – once again – lagged in this department.  Even if I have absolutely nothing to say (which happens quite frequently) I believe it’s a good idea to flesh out some thoughts/words and get the gears turning in my head.  It’s a good wake-up call, the whole writing thing.  Kind of like morning coffee without the messy grounds.

I have an extremely busy time coming up.  My daughter is due any day now, I’ve had an interesting time redefining a lot of my professional work and more.  I guess it’s stuff I can write about.  And I like keeping this blog some-what consistent.  After all, THIS site (or blog – whatever you want to call it) has been open for awhile.  Throughout the time I’ve started this, I’ve had posts that mention I’d be writing more frequent.  A lot of time I do for awhile – and then drop the ball.  It’s probably happened well over a dozen times now where I do a post like this one – and then stop writing.

SO – let’s try it again.

I read an article about the benefits of waking up early and writing.  No matter if I’m tired, cranky, have NOTHING to offer – I’ll try.  It’s for my benefit.  I’m not sure how many people actually read blog posts anymore consider all the instant gratification with simple Tweets and Facebook statuses.

Writing this is a start.  Let’s see how far I can go….

What goes around, paints around

16 Sep

I talked a bit about it in my previous post about how cartooning has been lackluster this past summer.  How do I mean?  Let me put it this way –  I have good things going, but they’re not really going anywhere.  At least not quickly.  Things have been a bit stagnant recently.

I keep up my daily cartoon series.  That’s not going anywhere.  But not much has grown.

The newspaper business is dismal as ever.  As a child, that was my initial intention for my work            (syndication in the daily rags).  But, times have changed.  That’s an area a bit out of my control.  The newspapers aren’t budging when it comes to adding new comics (which, I truly believe would help skyrocket their declining sales).

However, there are other media outlets.  Which I push for constantly.  Sometimes they hit – sometimes they miss.  Regardless, it’s very inconsistent.

I have high hopes though for the future with a lot of my work.  One is the licensing part.  The work I produce IS getting licensed out regularly – which is great.  But, it’s kind of like car sales in the sense that I have good months and bad.  I’m not sure how to make that much bigger, but I’m hoping it grows naturally (which, I feel like it is).

Then there’s greeting cards, my online syndication and the newspapers I’m actually in (thanks, Tampa Bay Times).


But, it’s not GROWING at a comfortable pace.

I almost feel like I need to reinvent the wheel on how to make the gag cartoons a more substantial part of my work.  So, I’m tinkering around with some ideas for it.  I have no idea what this new reinvention is yet – but I am trying to think.  You know how Uber changed the taxi service?  Okay, well that’s my mindset.  It’s a stretch – I know.  But at least I’m bouncing around ideas.

As a lot of my regular work is really so-so, I have other ambitions in cartooning and other mediums I’m wanting to pursue.  I have my graphic novels, books and on a side note, I really want to start producing more MAD Magazine material.

That all needs time.

Along with time, I need to keep the lights on.  Sources of income are important.

Therefore, this past month I started a new company that fits with my field.  It’s designed to keep me busy with cartooning ambitions during the day and art at night.  It’s called Painting Around Dayton.

Painting Around Dayton Logo Final 400

The idea came to me actually about four months ago as I tried my hand at teaching paint and sip venues around the area.  I thought to myself, “Hey, I should just do this on my own.  My own business.  Yeah, let’s try that.”

It’s painting, drinking and having fun.

So, I brought on a good business partner and we launched last Saturday.

We basically go to different restaurants, bars, establishment and paint and drink (like I mentioned).  I standup in front of everyone, give a step-by-step instructions on a featured painting and we offer two free alcoholic beverages.  And then if a attendee wants more to sip on (or food) they can order more.  It’s about two hours long and everyone has fun.  I coin it as more of a good time than an art lesson.  At the end of the night (or day) though, it’s a bit of both.  And everyone gets to take home their masterpiece.  It’s a win-win for attendees, the businesses it’s hosted in and us.  Oh, and again – it’s a blast.

It’s not a brand new concept.  Nope.  Paint and sip venues have been around for about a decade or so.  But, it is a growing trend.  And we (Painting Around Dayton) separate ourselves from others by being local, featuring local Ohio/Dayton scenes (most of the time) and providing imported wine (free) to many events.  I feel it’s much better than any other venue(s) around here.  Plus you get to hear my attempts at lame jokes – which can sometimes be worth the ticket price alone.

As I try to figure out cartooning and what can be done with my gag cartoons, this is a great filler.  It’s nice to get out of the studio and still create art.  Having an audience in person (instead of imagining them reading my comics online) is a satisfying experience as well.  I’ve made new friends along the way and am anxious to meet more people as I continue to do this.

The business IS growing.  And I plan on keeping it around for a long time.  I’m envisioning hiring on some new artists soon.  I’m not sure how big it’s going to get (considering we’re staying in Dayton), but it’s fun.  And it works.  So for now, that’s what matters.

My lackluster summer for cartooning I’m putting behind me.  I’ll work on making cartooning better and while I do so, I’ll be painting around Dayton.

Below are some pics from our recent event.

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Absent Minded

19 Aug

I apologize for being rather distant on here recently.  Several months ago I promised I’d try (“try” being the key word) to write here in a more frequent manner.  I had a nice streak going there for awhile, but – life once again got in the way.

Recently I’ve found myself again trying to do too much and really my focus has been a bit off.  And hey, that’s life.

I’m still cranking out the regular cartoons, still doing custom work and have been teaching a lot of paint & sip events.

I’ll be honest though, cartooning has been a pretty big disappointment this summer for me.

I’ve found my work stolen and used more than purchased off my new website.  I send everyone an invoice when caught, but it’s been discouraging seeing all my efforts just being yanked.  And this day and age, really the ONLY sure way to make money creating gag cartoons is licensing them for use (and the occasional publications).  So, I see my work all over the place and I haven’t made a cent off a lot of it (sigh).  I tell these people, if you owned a t-shirt shop, I wouldn’t just walk in and take your t-shirts (unless I was looking for a trip to jail for the evening).

On an up-note, I signed a greeting card contract today with a major company (that I’ve worked with before).  That being said, to make great money off that, I’d have to sell GOBS of cards.  Like, trainloads worth.  But hey, that could happen.  At least people can’t steal greeting cards as easily off the shelves as my images on the internet.

With a daughter on the way, stuff needs to pan out better financially.

I’ve been teaching a lot, as I mentioned.  And I’m launching my own paint and sip venue here in the Dayton area called Painting Around Dayton with a business partner.  I’m excited about it and it DOES help fund those stolen cartoons.  Definitely new for me.  But, I enjoy getting out, meeting people and I think they have a good time with me trying to tell jokes (on stage, sometimes they fall quite flat….trust me) while showing them how to paint.  So the painting side of things this summer has been great!

But, deep down, I feel a bit beaten down in the cartooning world.

That’s kind of wiped my motivation to write much here, because most of these post revolve around cartooning – my BIGGEST passion (well, work-wise).

That being said, I’m hoping my website (and other sources for licensing my work) quits getting material stolen from it and more folks actually buy the products for use.  Over time, I believe that will develop.  Heck, Nate Fakes Cartoons doesn’t even show up on google yet, so the honest people can’t really find me anyway.  That all takes time.  But, when searching for ‘cartoons’ or ‘comics’ – boy, I’d love to have my neck out there.  I know a lot of business comes that way.

I’m working on my graphic novel(s)….still.  But, those I can’t really look at as a financial investment.  Yes, I hope they can churn a profit, but it’s more for the wanting to do them.

And projects like Knocking On Heaven’s Door – a collaborated cartoon series created way back in 2008 – hasn’t gone as far as we (my writer for it and I) have hoped.  The books sold great – and then we stopped making it and I think there were some missed opportunities.  But, the funny thing about this series is it tends to resurface.  I think there’s something down the line for this at some point.  Wait and see.

Technically Speaking, a series I developed at the beginning of the year, also didn’t pan out time-wise or financially.  I created that for syndicates, and they enjoyed it.  But it was ultimately rejected.  I enjoyed making it, but I have no time to keep it going without a financial gain.

So, what’s my point?

Listen, I do cartooning and art because I LOVE it and you’re supposed to do what you love, right?  Also, I know how to hold a pen.  But, I’m also realistic about outcomes of stuff I produce.  I think anyone that produces comics wants them to ultimately make a bit of money.  And I have.  I’m not being greedy, but I do need more.  Again, the family is growing and times are tough.  This IS my business and industry.  Not a hobby.

What it boils down to is, I’m trying to make good decisions on where to invest my time.

Painting Around Dayton is cool because it’s a live event and it sells.  But, for cartooning, well….

I still have good things like I’m in some newspapers everyday, do have the occasional MAD Magazine or other magazine cartoon published, get custom work and actually DO license out the work (yes, it’s not ALL stolen).

I’m hoping a lot of elements of what I do change though.  I don’t mind my work being out there for free, either.  I post on Facebook daily and my daily work is available for no cost almost anywhere (I love it when my work is shared – with a source of where it came from, of course).  But, I still see my cartoons show up on websites and more.  It’s theft if it’s on a published site, newsletter, book, etc. without permission or by licensing it.  And it’s not an innocent crime considering how strapped I am on this end.  That hurts when I try to find quarters for toll roads.

The light at the end of the tunnel is I’ve been here before.  I think every artist/creator has.  I’ve never been wealthy off of what I do, but I do have good – and bad – months.  This summer just happens to stink.

Usually when I get in a somewhat funk over my cartooning, something turns around (again, I signed a new greeting card contract today).  I just gotta be patient and keep on cranking out things.

So, I know I’ve been slacking with post (including my whacky “Week-In-Reviews”), but until I get the business side of cartooning on a better track, it’s hard to find much great news in the biz to report.  BUT, I’m sure I can write about an awesome pizza I had the other night or some unsettling mosquito bite.  SOMETHING.  I’ll try.  Promise.

Writing sometimes helps me come up with answers, so there you go.  That’s a start.  And summer is coming to a close soon.

Cheers to fall!


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