Thursday, April 28, 2011

New set of Cartoon Prints - Super Happy Heroes

I've been working on a set of prints that I'll be selling at future comic shows. Prints are something that I've been lacking and I have noticed in past shows that these sell pretty well for other artists, so I am going to give it a shot. I did five different silly superhero cartoon illustrations which you can see here and I'll also have some of my more recent cartoons available as prints in full color as well.

I've never tried selling prints before, so I have my fingers crossed that people will like them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Buried in projects, a good place to be

Last weekend I was in Lubbock, Texas for the Lubbock Arts Festival, inside which was the Lubbock Comics Expo. I was invited out to the show along with my friend and fellow cartoonist Grant Sutherland by Will Terrell.Will very graciously gave us a table at the show. We had a blast meeting the art fest attendees, selling books and doing sketches for people, but the real highlight of the trip was getting to tour and hang out in Robot Cowboy Studios, Will's digs where he creates.

Will has an awesome workspace in his studio and he sublets the space to other illustrators and cartoonists. We got to wonder around seeing drawing desks, drawing tablets, sketches and notes and work in progress and it was just great. It reminded me of when I was in art school. I would be very productive in an environment like that. It was inspirational. I just wanted to get back home and keep making more comics!

Speaking of which, I have some irons in the fire. Now that my book of gag cartoons is complete and printed I've been planning out what's coming next. First off, I'm working on a new full color comic book. While working on my single panel cartoons I tried to scale back the "cartoony" in my work, tried to stay low key and more subtle. Now I'm eager to unleash. I've been trying to push the cartoonyness in my sketchbook lately and I have some ideas that I plan to collect into a Mad Magazine style, pot luck collection of silly over the top comic pages. I've already got the first five page story penciled, so I'm well on my way with that. Will I have it done in time for SPX? Hmm, not sure yet, it's possible. But, I'm excited about it.

Second, while in Lubbock I did a couple sketch cards by request of some superheroes in my super cartoony style that went over really well. I noticed at this show and at several others recently that prints seem to be a big seller. I have no prints. I'm going to try and put out a series of these over the top caricatures of various comic book heroes with general reputations of being rather grim and do some full color prints. I'm also planning on coloring some of my recent cartoon panels and doing prints of those as well. It'll be something totally new for me and I'll premier them at the Dallas Comic Con next month and see how it goes.

Lastly, my buddy Grant sat next to me at the Lubbock show and we got to talking about how often little kids show up in front of our tables. Now, none of my work is really bad for kids, but it isn't targeted at them either. Grant is in the same boat. We got to talking about this and made some plans to callaborate on a book specifically for kids. There isn't enough content at comics shows for the next generation of readers and we started bouncing around some ideas. After the prints are colored and ready for sale and my next comic is complete we're going to work together on a new book that will be kid friendly in a super cartoony, Nickelodeon magazine sort of way and I'm very excited about that as well.

More and more I find that my time spent at comics shows, rubbing elbows with other creators and bouncing ideas off of them, really inspires me to get back to my drawing board and keep slinging ink!

More on these projects soon...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cartoon - Computer Nerves

Jeremy's nervous condition stemmed from the
fact that his computer continuously taunted him.

I certainly feel this way about my work computer some times. All those damn error messages and patches and updates! Grr.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Village Voice Article - The Comics Issue: If Cartoons Are So Big, Why Don't They Pay?

ARTIST: Mitch O'Connell

The Village Voice is running an article (by Roy Edroso) about how little profit professional cartoonists actually make off of their comics/cartooning work. It's a sad fact that this profession no longer offers the glitz and glamor and profit that it once may have. 

Where I work (a business office with nothing to do with art or illustration) I'm often thought of as "the guy who draws" by my coworkers and I'm sure many of my cartoonist/artist friends can relate to being categorized like that when they're not around their artist peers. Of course, as soon as folks find out I can do it they start coming to me for their little side projects, asking that I do illustration work for them, for posters or business reports or t-shirt logos. Always for free of course.

Invariably when someone sees some of my work posted on my cubicle wall they say something like, "Geeze, what are you doing working here!" The implication being, I suppose, that since I can draw a little I should somehow have become magically rich and famous because of it. Sometimes I shrug it off and sometimes I try to find the root of this idea.

I remember asking a co-worker, after one of these exchanges, if they'd ever read the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. "Oh, yeah! I loved that strip. I read it all the time when I was younger." "Great!", I say, "So, who drew it?" "...Um, I don't know". "Ok," I say, "How about Bugs Bunny or Popeye or Superman? Ever see those cartoons or comics?" "Yes!", they said, "I love all those." "Ok." I say again, "Can you name one artist who worked on any of them? Hundreds of folks have worked on those titles over the years, can you name a single one?" I'm met with a blank stare.

So much for fame, how about fortune? I ask the same co-worker, "So, I noticed in last project report you sent around there were a few illustrations on the cover and throughout the report. Where did you get those?" This is a common thing I come across during my day job working in an office. I'm sure you can guess the response, "Oh, I just did some searches on the web and found them." "And did you contact the artist and pay to use their work in your report?" I ask expectantly. "Um, no." they say. "Which comic strips in the paper do you like to read? Any new ones interest you?" I prod. "Heh, the paper? I haven't looked in a newspaper in years." How shocking. "Oh. Well, have you ever read a comic online?" I ask, knowing that they have since I've past their desk and seen this a few times. "Sure." they said. "And how much do you pay to read the online strips you like? Have you ever bough a book from them or even sent in a donation to the artist?" I query. "No, the online ones are free." they reply triumphantly. "Well, I guess now you know why I'm working here, don't you." They laugh, shrug and walk on still complimenting me on my funny cartoons.

Everyone seems to value comics work and illustration and everyone seems to agree that the folks who can do this well should somehow be revered, but it's getting harder to find people willing to actually back up that consideration with their own wallet. The perception and the reality of the economics within art based professions appear to be way off from each other.


Sketchbook Page - Rat King Studios

Some artist friends of mine and I are thinking about collaborating on a comics project in the next few months and we've been bouncing ideas around about a studio name to publish it under. The current front runner is Rat King Studios. Here are some mascot design ideas I've been bouncing around in my sketchbook.

Cartoon - Penguin Park

This is probably good advice no matter where you're going, really.