iPad mmmmm :)

Today’s comic marks the first one I fully created on my iPad. There will be more.

If anyone’s got suggestions for FTP apps for the iPhone/iPad that don’t cost a fortune and don’t suck, please let me know. With a good FTP app I won’t need to log back into the computer to post comics at all if I don’t want to.

That’s not to say that I’m giving up my WACOM tablet, just that travel just got lighter, and comicking more convenient.

Everything old is new again

When I was young, I set up my father’s record player in my bedroom, with his old drawing table, and I painted watercolors on any piece of paper that made the mistake of being in range while listening to Peter Paul and Mary, the soundtrack to 1776, the Kingston Trio, and occasionally some of his other stuff.

Tonight, I’m home alone, listening to Peter Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio while drawing comics on a Wacom tablet with a surface about the size of the paper I used to paint.

It’s a good way to be.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Secrets of greatness: Practice and hard work bring success.

Two things you might be interested in knowing, both of which are obvious:

  1. Drawing is hard.
  2. Drawing isn’t fun.

Writing is hard. When the characters aren’t speaking to you it’s really really hard. But for me, drawing is much harder even on a good day. That’s why I do it.

I’m 30 now and I find there are a lot of times that something is presented to me — especially things that were easy as a kid — and I can feel my mind rebel. That’s hard. Don’t you have a calculator? Why don’t you just do this easy thing instead? You don’t really need to understand that. For a while, probably five or six years, I avoided thinking things that weren’t easy for me. It became a big disadvantage because I have this stubborn block against math. I’m sure it’s too hard for me. But I used to add and subtract and multiply every day without pause and now I don’t. (You don’t do many multiplication tables in tech support.) And I found that suddenly, math is just as hard as I thought it was, even easy math, like 9+7. When you can’t decide if it’s 15 or 16, well, you feel silly. So I’ve deliberately been relearning my times tables and a lot of addition an subtraction. Made it up to 13×13 yesterday. Sounds crazy, especially if you’re young. How do you forget how to add? Well if you don’t practice, those skills just go away and get replaced by skills for something else, like, say, finding the remote control.

The blog part of this site is easy. Write words, check grammar, submit. I don’t really try. I write what I’m thinking and ignore the thesis aspect and move on. It’s lazy writing.

But the drawing is really really hard. There are times when I’m stealing from my own art and thinking that all I need to do is move Marin’s arm from here to here… and my brain says, ooh, that’s hard. can’t you rewrite the script instead? Nobody will notice if she hasn’t moved in three panels.

It still takes me four or five hours to draw even the simplest of panels from scratch. I can spend two hours on a hand and still have it come out looking like a claw. I admit, I often try to avoid it, and just draw what I absolutely have to. It’s hard. But ultimately, I do it.

And now people I know say I’m an artist, I can draw, I’m “good”, or at least “better than they are” and I sometimes laugh, or sometimes get annoyed. I’m awful, lazy, and frustrated. Drawing comics is hard, and sometimes I even get angry at myself for doing it. But I said I would, and I have ideas I want to express that fit comics best. So I do it.

Doing what’s hard will make you stronger at things that are easy. Do something hard today. You won’t regret it.

The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch

When I first started drawing comics, I tried to draw every comic with a full (or almost-full) view of all the characters, full backgrounds, no cut-and-paste characters, and accounting for almost every minute of the characters lives.

I also, strangely, almost ever used the beat panel, or as some apparently call it, the Silent Penultimate Panel (SPP).

It’s been almost two years since I started drawing comics (December 14th being the anniversary) and a lot has changed. I still have to physically stop myself from drawing all of every character. I still draw fairly detailed backgrounds, but even I don’t know where the hell Lila’s desk is or why it’s surrounded by a sea of orange. My anti-cut-and-paste stance made it about 6 comics, and I do skip around a bit more in characters’ lives (because, really, walking around and stuff gets pretty boring).

March 27, 2005, was the first comic I posted where the empty panel didn’t just stand for the passage of time or a different camera view, but the first true “beat panel” I attempted wasn’t until April 29, 2006.

Even now I’m kind of torn on them. They take up a lot of space, comic-wise, and don’t accomplish as much, and I’m not sure I’m good enough a writer to really say that they’re effective when I use them. So I try to avoid them (though lately I’ve abused them a bit).

And maybe that’s a good thing, because today I found The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch, a blog specifically dedicated to display the abuse of beat-panels. Veeeeery eeenteresting. And definitely has me thinking more about my timing.