Bizness As Usual

6 Apr

One of the areas in my career I’ve been working on quite a bit is BizComics.

As you may know, BizComics was actually launched in June of 2015.  However, just recently, we’ve relaunched it.  Why?  It needed it.  The original site didn’t have really any content to go visit (well, just not a super-ton of content).  It explained what we do (which, if you don’t know, you should just go visit the site instead of me explaining it all here).  It had some cartoons, but not anything to keep anyone THAT interested.  If we had a way of serving free coffee there, that would’ve been interesting.  Unfortunately at the time, we did not (and sorry – still don’t).

Basically, we needed a better way of getting the message out of what we do.  And have a bit more fun on our end while we’re at it.

What we do though has remained the same since the start.  Just the site and content to go with it has changed.

With the relaunch, a few exciting new things have been happening in the neighborhood.

One is, there is a new weekly cartoon and blog featured every week.  They’re always business, office, marketing – you know, biz stuff related.

Bells and Whistles

Above:  Here’s an example.  The latest BizComic cartoon.

Also, there is a new quarterly graphic novel series, Max Impact:  Marketing Detective.  It’s an ongoing series about Max trying to solve marketing problems.  Definitely more exciting than the latest Batman v Superman movie.  No, really.  It’s a fresh and engaging feature I think you’ll enjoy.

We’ve also added all the social media outlets that you can follow us on.  That includes Facebook, Linkedin, Pintrest, Twitter and InstaGram.  If I’m missing any, please let me know.

As a cartoonist, I love just about every thing about the craft.  I’ve always compared cartooning to acting:  I take on many roles.  I work on daily gags, graphic novels, stupidity for MAD and – along with it all – I really have a passion for using cartoons for marketing.  They ARE the best marketing material out there.  (That’s why it kills me when cartoons get axed from publications.  Don’t they realize the cartoons are often the most read part of it?  It’s a proven stat.  Ask the NewYorker.)

And I always mention to companies I work with and potential clients, when was the last time you DIDN’T pay attention to a cartoon on your news feed?  (The answer, when answered honestly, is typically that you always do.)

Cartoons work.

So, anyway, I’m not trying to make a pitch here about BizComics, but it has been a big area of focus recently and I hope you check out the new features (why, just click here).  I’ve been working hard with the coolest marketing team out there and we’ve really come a long ways since our initial launch over a year ago.

I’m thrilled to keep growing this bizmonster.

A Certain Type of Change

6 Mar

Last December I made a pretty major change to my daily cartoons.  Well, at least I think it’s major.  To you, and possibly everyone else, it might not be a big deal.  However, I mulled over it for weeks before pulling the trigger and making the change.  Any guesses on what it was?

The text, silly.

Yes, the fun little captions I use below my comics.  I’m sure you guessed that, right?  Or you’ve already noticed if you’re an avid reader.  But, if you’re just now catching on to that change I made awhile back, that is it.  I know, I know – nothing huge.  Changing a text is like changing a light bulb.  Nobody probably notices it until it goes out.  (And since I put text into my cartoons constantly, it’s usually always there when needed.  And doesn’t require as much electricity.)

For years (roughly six years, to be exact) I used the font, Times New Roman – in italic.

I thought about it one day though and said to myself, “Why the hell do I keep using this font?  There’s no meaning behind it?  And…and I like change.  Yeah, change is good.  I might just do something about it.  And tacos.  I’m craving tacos.”  It was around dinner time when I thought of this.

bod130517Above:  An example of the Times New Roman text that I dramatically decided to cut out of my comics.

I remember back-in-the-day why I started using italicized Times New Roman.  I had a few reasons.  One was, I was trying to get close to the font used on NewYorker cartoons.  For some reason or another I thought my work was NewYorker-ish material, so I wanted to relate to them.  And I also thought that the general public might appreciate a familiar font as well.  Like wearing underwear, it just seemed right.

Well, as time went on, I thought it was probably cooler to use my own font.

I found a neat-o program that can translate your handwriting into a font that can be typed.  It has its flaws (trust me) but it works at about a 92% accuracy.  (And as an example of accuracy, one flaw it has is if I type a ‘z‘, it will have about two spaces of space for the next letter.  Therefore, typing words with ‘z’s’ looks horrible and I have to physically tackle the issue in Photoshop to make it look pretty.)  But, it’s good.  I like it.  And I decided my own text would be more original to use underneath my cartoons.

And I started doing just that.

bod160212Above:  And an example of my new-and-improved (at least I hope) original font.

Now, just to let you know, I’ve ALWAYS handwritten my own text inside speech bubbles in my comics.  Yes, that’s all handwritten (without using the mentioned font program).  That has always been the same.  Below the comic is a different story.

bod160201Above:  That thought bubble?  Yeah, it’s all handwritten.  Always has been – always will be.

So that was my major change.  What do you think?  Good?  Bad?  Ugly?  Tacos?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I plan on sticking with it.  At least until next December, when maybe I’ll discover the most awesome font in the world and go that route.  But, until then, I’ll deal with what I’ve got.  I don’t want to change too much or people might start catching on.

Oh. It’s 2016…

1 Mar

Recently I’ve been thinking you know, I haven’t written a blog post recently.

So, today I typed in my web browser the address of this blog that you’re reading now.  To my surprise, the last time I wrote was 2015.  Last year (yikes).  Whoah…it’s been awhile.  What’s really upsetting is there has been a lot going on between the time I posted last and now.  Basically, I’ve left all of you in the dark for quite awhile on anything new.  I’m not quite sure how many of you are heartbroken about the fact that I haven’t posted lately, but I’ll try to change my vicious pattern of not posting.  Starting with this.

Where does one begin since I haven’t been writing?

I’ll start here: It’s been busy (obvious statement, I know).

As many of you know, I’m a new father, so I’ll write about that for today and get into other “busyness” in later blog posts.

Ella was born November 16th of last year.  Fatherhood has been good to me.  A great thing!  I know – I know…all new parents say that.  But, it is very true.

Starting off, for me, it was like this.  Let me attempt to use an analogy.

In the hospital room, it reminded me of waiting for a train.  Have you ever done that?  Waited for a train at a station on the platform?  I used to take Amtrak all the time.  I still would, but I don’t travel much.  Anyhow, I’m using this scenario because being in the delivery room did remind me of waiting for a passenger train.

The train station is typically quiet – especially if you’re traveling from a small town in the middle of night (which, for me was often leaving Hutchinson, Kansas, around 3 AM).  It’s silent.  Nothing happening.  And then, all of a sudden, you hear a horn in the distance.  Then, a light.  And all of a sudden, it gets louder and LOUDER.  Gates are flashing, going down.  There are people gathering around the platform.  Rumbling of a huge train coming in for a stop. A flurry of activity.

And then, as quickly as the activity began, it stops.  Becomes quiet again and you’re off on a comfortable ride.

The birth of my daughter in the delivery room reminded me of this.  Nothing happening at all, then signs of her coming.  Suddenly, people (nurses and a doctor) gather in the room and – BOOM – there she is!  Crying a little bit.  But, once all the activity settles down and it’s just us in the delivery room with a few members of the family, it’s quiet again.  She’s asleep and we’re off on a new journey.

FullSizeRender-8

What a great journey it’s been since November.  I’m savoring every moment.  Yeah, I’m excited for her to talk, learn to draw and hangout with me without having to bring along a burp cloth.  But, the way she is now I’m absorbing up and also realizing it won’t last so enjoy every progression, moment and time from here on out.  Again, I know it’s all been said before, but now I realize how true it all is.  I already feel like she’s growing up too fast and it’s been just over three months.  If she picks up a pen and starts cartooning within the next several days, I wouldn’t be too shocked.  (And then I’ll have to explain to her all the frustrations of being in the cartooning profession.)

12799221_10153394774944117_6913285986757378830_n

 

This ride is quite an exciting one.  And many stops along the way (especially to change poopy diapers).  I’m thrilled to be aboard.

I’ll leave you with that.  Just another brief “hello” from Ella and me.

I’ll try to write more soon.  For now though, that’s my latest update.

And now I can say I’ve finally written a blog post in 2016 (applause).

 

 

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.

FullSizeRender(189)

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.

FullSizeRender(190)

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.

FullSizeRender(191)

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?

Anyway….

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?

DRONES.

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.

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