Make Comics Forever!!

Make Comics Forever is a forum for cartoonists dedicated to improving their productivity. This is not a forum for wimps! This is not a forum for flakes! We are here to share tips and techniques on how to produce more work and better work. Become a comic-making machine! Join the discussion now! To become a member, email a request to robyn @

Monday, February 23, 2009

Long time no post!

Hey gang, it's been pretty quiet around here - I assume you're all busy making comics! Anyway, just thought I'd stop by for a moment to let you know about my new one!

It's called "Angora Napkin" and it came out a few weeks ago. CBR just did an interview with me, you can check it out HERE. We also made an animation pilot for it that will be airing on Teletoon (Canada) sometime in March.

I'll be attending TCAF this May, I hope to see some of you there!

... Now I'm taking a small break before heading back to the drawing board. "Chiaroscuro Book I" took me 5 years to do... It's going to be another long haul to get Book II out me thinks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Comic Artist Rehab (and more)

There is a nifty website called "Comic Artist Rehab" out there, which aims to help cartoonists de-slump and become productive. They do this by selecting four cartoonists at a time (from those who have written in for help) and requiring them to draw (and post online) four panels every four days for four weeks. At the end of the program, each artist completes and posts a 5-question "exit interview" in which, among other things, they describe the experience and what it did for them.

Like any exercise, you don't have to do the "official" version. Dragon Green wanted to take part but didn't want to wait, so she decided to do it herself and put out a call on her LiveJournal to see if anyone else wanted to join her. I and two others responded, and the "Comic Rehab Ripoff" was born.

While the exercise isn't a cure-all for everyone's woes, it has been a good experience for me (as I write this, our final round is in two days). The combination of small frequent deadlines and a small audience of dedicated peers seems to do a good job of motivating me. I suppose you could view it competitively, not wanting to be the one to fall behind, though to me it feels like a cooperative enterprise - we are all working together, and I want to keep my end of things up.

Rehab has also made me think about the diary cartoonists out there (like Matthew Reidsma, Jennifer Omand, & of course James Kochalka) who draw four (or so) panels every darn day, on top of other projects. My post-Rehab goal is to draw at least 2 finished panels every day (preferably at least four).

I think a dedicated workspace is also helpful. I replaced my desk with a used drawing table a while ago, and though it took some time before my space was orderly enough to access it, during Comic Rehab I have enjoyed the feeling of sitting down to this special space to produce my allotment of creative stuff (also, the slanted surface is harder to clutter!). I don't think a drawing table is necessary, just a place that is clearly for drawing comics or whatever. It doesn't even have to be strictly dedicated, as I am all too familiar with space constraints, but it should be set up so you have to do little or nothing to sit down and start making comics - no piles of stuff to move, etc.

Don't get trapped into thinking you can only draw in your special place, though, or you'll be working against yourself. Draw everywhere! Brandon Graham says, "I drew for years at a time without owning a desk. Be ready to draw anywhere, bust out your best work anytime. The best thing about comics is that it takes no money -- you could steal pens and paper and make the best comic ever sitting on a dumpster."

Be ready to draw cartoons even when you are Bob Ross preparing for your show:

Friday, October 19, 2007

A plea for clarity...

Greetings, fellow Imagesmiths...
I've been a long time follower of this particular forum and have a great deal of admiration and respect for the hard working artists whose works frequent this blog... but I've never bothered to jump into the tidepool myself.

While most of my cartooning work has been in the field of children's publishing in the past, I do some independant comic work for Heavy Metal Magazine (I know, I know... CRINGE... but it's the only large circulation venue I've found that doesn't feel the need to over-edit my work) to salve my creative itch. I've been documenting the progress of my latest story on my blog:
  • Slumbering Giant

  • I figure that this is as fine a place and as good a time as any to address one of my biggest obstacles to productive comic work...
    More and more, I find myself constantly revising and redrawing past story pages in order to make what I feel to be substandard imagery jive more readily with more recent and perceptibly improved page work. Because of this, I'm finding that I could potentially catch myself in a sort of creative mobius loop of continual refinement with no hope of an eventual finished product.

    How do the more productive among you comfortably justify preserving previous progress even in the light of current scrutiny? Is there some easier way to simply allow oneself to just "do better next time" in the interest of simply finishing a story?

    Thanks for any insights anyone can provide...
    In the meantime, I'm grateful to be counted among you in the struggle!

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Drawing forever!!

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    I noticed the blog hadn't been updated in awhile so I thought I'd take the opportunity to submit a post.
    I can report the good news that I got to the bottom of what was causing my wrist pains and it ended up being an irritated nerve in my neck. I still have the occasional ache but as long as I keep up my stretches I can manage it ok, and more importantly keep drawing!
    I mostly post comics to my blog if you're interested.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    Chiaroscuro HC available for pre-order!!!!

    Previews pg. 312, Diamond code: AUG073757

    Hi gang, just letting you know about the book status! Check out the Spotlight in the new edition of Previews and maybe order yourself a copy! (Thanks!)

    The next book (Angora Napkin) is chugging along in spite of everything. I'm almost 80 pages into it running about 6 new pages a month. I find the only time I get to work on it is if I get up at 5 or 6 am before the kids wake up. Most people think I'm nuts but we do what we have to do right?

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Comics On Handhelds

    This piece was originally written for the 11th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival.

    My experiments with screen-based comics began during my undergraduate years in Montreal, where I read a Wired magazine comic by Scott McCloud that discussed the potential for comics to go digital. This led me to McCloud’s then-current book Reinventing Comics and his already extensive website. A read of Reinventing Comics, a few experimental comix of my own, and a graduate degree later, I received an email from Will Simmons at Clickwheel asking if I was interested in publishing my comics to iPods. I was, despite never having seen a color iPod at that point. Will assured me that my comics looked gorgeous on the small screens, but only when I got ahold of one a few months later did I realize the full potential of handheld digital comics.

    It's not surprising that comics joined music and video on handhelds. It was inevitable, given the ubiquity of these devices, the revitalization of the comics medium, and the growing interest in webcomics. And though I have no statistics to support this, I suspect that a healthy slice of the net-savvy, handheld-using demographic is also enthusiastic and supportive of comics, be they digital or printed on paper.

    Unlike music and video, comics don't suffer from the need to reduce file size (and thus quality) in order to get them onto handhelds. Quite the contrary; quality is enhanced. It's actually satisfying holding a digital comic in your hand, especially compared to hunching over a monitor attempting to read the small or blurry type that often plagues webcomics. The high resolution of an iPod screen ensures that tiny handwriting is legible, and makes the colors crisper than most laptop screens. Due to the typographic nature of comics, I believe that the quality of other handheld screens will need to meet the standard set by the iPod in order to adequately display comics.

    An appealing direction for small-screen comics would be the incorporation of artist-controlled transitions from one panel to the next. Currently, comics can only be viewed on an iPod using its standard photo-viewing interface. The typical transition is a straight cut, which is fine, and the user has the option to select others such as "cube" or "swirl", which are gimmicky and do not enhance reading. Consider, however, the simple gliding panel-to-panel movements used in Daniel Merlin Goodbrey's flash-based Tarquin Engine, which, as an example of an infinite canvas with multi-directional reading possibilities, seems ideally suited for viewing comics on a tiny screen. As touch-screen handhelds become the norm, readers may simply be able to finger tap the next panel in a sequence and see it zoom into focus on the screen.

    A crucial step I'd like to see for small-screen comics is a simple way for readers to subscribe to their favorite comic and have it download automatically to their handheld. Accessibility and ease of use will be essential in maintaining the momentum of small-screen comics.

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    work related injuries...

    Hi every one I just joined this blog recently and thought I’d make a post to introduce myself, probably best to check out my main blog awcomix if you are interested ;)

    I also wanted to discuss work related injuries like RSI and Carpal tunnel syndrome.
    Earlier this year I started getting pains in my hand wrist and forearms which at first I thought was RSI. A few weeks ago my physio re-diagnosed me with CTS. The treatments I’m doing now seem to be working and I’m hopeful that I’m on the road to recovery. I was just wondering what others experiences are with these things, ie,

    -what problems you had,
    -how have you dealt/overcome those problems
    -and what effect has it had on your work and mental state?

    I know it’s probably been discussed before on the blog but thought I’d ask all the same.

    For me like I said it’s been a low level but constant pain in different areas of my drawing arm. I am currently wearing a brace at night to sleep and taking B6 supplements with some minor stretches.
    At first this was a devastating thing to learn to deal with, having to take a break from drawing (and I was in a personal creative peak too) I’m now feeling a little better and hopefully that I will return to some sort of normal drawing activity in the near future.