Friday, July 30, 2010

Looking backward/forward

As I have been preparing myself for this year's Summer Workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies, a certain dread began to crawl inside of me. I started beating myself up for not accomplishing more since last summer's workshop. In fact, for a few moments there, I convinced myself that I haven't done a single cartooning-related thing in the past year.

But dread and fear often hide the truth. As I slowed down to think about it, I realized just how much cartooning-related work I have actually accomplished over the last 12 months:

  • I came up with at least 100 ideas for gag cartoons (single-panel cartoons like you see in The New Yorker), and drew at least 20 of them.
  • I scripted and thumbnailed at least 30 one-page comic stories.
  • I attended the Maine Comic Arts Festival, my first show behind the table as an artist.
  • I produced a new mini-comic.
  • I participated in this year's International Drawing Day.
  • I had two of my single-page comics stories appear in a book. (An amateur collection, but it's got covers and a spine, so it counts.)
  • I drew hundreds of illustrations in my sketchbooks.
  • I posted at least 20 or 30 cartoons to my webcomic.
  • I started scripting a graphic novel. (Well, really a work of journalism in comics form, so the term "graphic novel" isn't quite right, but you get the idea.)
  • I tried a whole bunch of different types of pens and papers as I experimented with different line and drawing styles.
  • I focused my creative goals (a very key piece of the puzzle).
  • and I had fun while doing all of the above.
Remembering / realizing / reflecting on all of that has totally pushed the dread aside and left me creatively charged for this workshop. I wish I could hit the road right now, but that wouldn't really do me any good, would it?

Anyway, I anticipate this being a life-changing experience, and I plan on making the most of it. Don't worry, I won't leave you behind -- expect some updates from the road next week.

See you in the funny pages.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Great Die Laughing Experiment

My short story collection DIE LAUGHING came out from Medium Rare Books back in 2002. It was a pretty darned good book, and people seemed to like it, but business issues plagued it from day one. Ultimately, having my own book wasn't the world's best experience if just because so many things went wrong with its publication.

Some day I'll expand upon what happened, but for now, let me just way, if you want something done right, leave yourself enough room to control your own destiny.

Which brings me to DIE LAUGHING 2.0.

That's right, what was once dead is now returned. I made the ebook version of DIE LAUGHING available a few weeks ago, thanks to Amazon's super-easy Kindle publishing platform.

My dreams for this ebook version are modest. I hope it will sell 100 copies. That's not much, but hey, I'm taking baby steps back into the fiction world, so I'm not shooting for the moon.

So how's it doing? Die Laughing sold 6 copies in its first few weeks of resurrected life. I'm happy with that.

I'll keep filling you in on sales as the experiment continues. In the mean time, if you want to give the book a try yourself, here's the link:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How I'll spend my summer vacation

A few days from now, I'll be packing up the car and heading south, west, left, right, and a few other directions until I get to the delightful little town of White River Junction, Vermont. There, I'll be participating in my second Summer Workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies, as cool a place as you can possibly imagine.

Last summer's workshop was incredible, but it came at a really terrible time in my life (just a few weeks after the untimely death of my father). This year I hope to go in with a clearer head and heart so I can learn and draw and draw and learn.

I have a few pretty clear goals for this year's workshop, including drawing and producing at least one brand-new mini-comic. I also want to experiment with a few new inking techniques and tools, learn more about pacing scripts, prep a graphic novel idea for possible submission, and meet a bunch of cool people.

But the most important goal is to relax, have fun, and recharge. I need this creative break, and I'm going to work like hell to make it the best break it can be.

Of course, before I can leave, I need to tie up a few dozen writing assignments and line up the work I'm going to tackle as soon as I get back. Taking a vacation isn't easy for a freelancer, but I haven't taken any real time off for myself in more than a year, so it's worth the effort.

Expect updates from CCS starting early next week.

So, what do you do to recharge and relax? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome to the new blog!

After what feels like 87 years over at LiveJournal, it's time for this blog to make a clean break and start fresh.

I resisted this for a long time -- half out of laziness, half out of sticking with the tried and true.

But all of my other blogs are here on Blogger, which offers greater flexibility, better RSS feeds, more features, and more chances to have fun with it.

Plus, my old LJ blog was started to promote my fiction. I almost never write fiction anymore, so why not start something fresh?

My old blog will remain archived here, and I'll probably still post on it from time to time, but basically, this is where I'll be from now on.

Hope you'll stick around for the ride!