2012 saw the start of a few exciting (to me) things for The Optimist, including new recurring characters, a new panel layout, and this website’s switchover to a new branding/format (the short-lived FICTIONAL COMICS, followed recently by a switch to THE SEQUENTIALIST). Anyhoo, here are some corrections and comments and mea culp-whatevers for a selection of comic strips from last year.
These are the contents of my coffeeshop comic-drawing box Continue reading
Tonight’s sobering exercise: Pulled out the ol’ dip pens for the first time since say, 1993? I went digging through a box for my pen handles & nibs & two ancient glass bottles of India ink (one gunky, one watery). Anyway, unlike my long-abandoned technical pens sitting in the same box, these required absolutely no maintenance, which is pretty rad. They were dirty, but useable. I certainly won’t say I’m good at using these things (I never was), but I’m at least pleased with how relatively not-completely-incompetent I am. I’ll have to fuck around with ‘em more. Continue reading
I was just poking through a folder of already-published Optimist comic art and saw the file for this strip from January. I remembered what a mess the artwork was & how much Photoshop-futzing around I ended up having to do to get it where I wanted it to be. Sometimes I carve up and edit my sloppy pen work so much I wonder why I bother drawing on paper at all. AND SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE. I’ve decided to show you my Photoshop clean-up process via animated GIF to confirm your suspicions that I’m a no-talent slob. Continue reading
Now that The Demographic’s new video for “The Headliner” is finally done, I’ll briefly review some of the technical aspects of the production. I’ve had this project floating around unfinished in the background of my to-do lists since… oh Christ, May, I think? So though I am extremely proud of it, I’m also quite prepared to archive it and stop thinking about it for forever. Continue reading
“It is difficult to talk about what I do, because I do it so I don’t have to talk about it.” – C.M.S.
Today would have been Charles Schulz’s 89th birthday. An opportune day for me to jot down a little something, I guess, because I’ve just finished reading Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography and I’m currently halfway through re-reading Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz. I don’t claim to be a big fan of many people, but I suppose Mr. Schulz (I can not bring myself to refer to an adult as “Sparky”) counts as one of ‘em. Continue reading
Cartooning is, to me, an art form of simplification. The artist uses a minimal amount of lines to communicate characters and place to a reader. Mouths are often oddly-shaped black holes. Cartoon evolution often does away with lips, body hair, elbows. Eyebrows are reduced to lines. Eyes become dots. A background might be a line indicating where the floor and wall meet. Maybe a squiggle of distant trees, or a cloud. Maybe just a flat field of color. Continue reading
There’s a lot of crap out there when it comes to syndicated comic strips. I could get all Comics Curmudgeon on your asses and pick apart tons of strips for a variety of different reasons, but today I feel like picking apart one in particular. And that would be John McPherson’s Close to Home. This strip debuted in 1992, apparently an unabashed Far Side ripoff, except less weird and drawn worse. In the intervening bunch of years, it has apparently gotten much much worser. It consistently delivers the blandest stereotypes and joke set-ups, which is the worserest thing of all. It is a comic featured in my local newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette (syndicated in like, 700 other papers, too, says wikipedia), and I look forward to reading it with great relish every morning. Because I hate it so so much. Because it perfectly encapsulates everything that is wrong and bad about newspaper comic strip writing. Because it is so poorly executed, I usually spend more time trying to comprehend what I’m looking at than I do not laughing at the punchline. Continue reading