Missing the holidays in small town America

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I had to come home to Miami from NYC a few days early, due to a Nor’easter or something similar coming this weekend. I left early Saturday morning and the storm is coming Sunday and Monday and possibly Tuesday. I had planned to come home Monday morning, which is no big deal except for the fact that I am going to miss the Christmas parade and event this year in Southampton. I have many pictures here from last year.

It’s such a great event, I looked forward to it for months. I drive out there from the city with some of my cousins and we make a nice day of it – eating, shopping, the Christmas parade, the tree lighting and fireworks, all in small town America!

I was lucky to be able to change my flight so easily. I had choices, too, so I wasn’t stuck with some awful flight. I got an early 8:00 am flight and by noon I was at Publix, home in Miami, food shopping!

One funny thing is that my aunt told me she understood that I was leaving early and hated to see me go, but snow can be scary. I think she thinks I’m scared of snow. First off, it’s a storm, where the weather lady on tv said don’t leave the house all day Sunday, and secondly, and mainly, ever see that chaos at the airports where flights are canceled and people are waiting around for hours, sometimes days, for a flight home? That’s what I wanted to avoid. And I did. Glad to be home, but I miss NY.

A perfect day in Central Park

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We spent yesterday in Central Park and it was perfect – 60 degrees and sunny, you almost didn’t need a jacket.

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After a little searching, I came across my favorite piece of 1887 graffiti. It’s above the Bethesda Fountain, up the big flight of steps. I’m sort of hesitant to share it but I know you guys will protect it. As you can see here, a few jerks put graffiti near it and almost toughing it. It’s almost 133 years old, you can’t have anything nice. That “L” or whatever it is to the left is not part of the original 1887 thing and neither is the PJE below it.

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Time-saving drawing tips

I saw a video on a page I follow on Facebook, the video, “4 Time-Saving Tips from a guy who spent 13 years drawing a comic” is by cartoonist Lars Martinson.

Lars worked on a very detailed graphic novel called Tonoharu, for 13 years, from when he was 25 to 38. The fine detail on each page is what killed all that time.

As I had stated in the past, Hal and High Water is taking me from 2 to 2.5 hours to create each strip. And I work fast. Ironically, one of the top syndicate guys told me I worked too fast, without even knowing me or seeing me work, he saw my work, he just didn’t see me work! But he is right, I work fast, so that 2 hours or more for one single strip is a bit much.

I’m trying to pare it down. I see many comic strips that use the copy and paste method where characters are concerned, you know, using the same images over and over again by cutting and pasting the same image in each panel. I don’t care for that method, so that way of saving time is out for me.

But Lars is the extreme – he goes all out with every drawing, where I’ll focus on one panel usually and I pare down the details on that, but I do put a lot into that and in others I’ll use no or little background.

storeI recently drew a country store panel, a general store actually, that could have so much background, picture a general store, there usually is not one space that doesn’t visually capture your eye. Well I redrew that strip twice, so that made that a 5 to 6 hour strip in work time! But it was important to pick and choose the correct images for the store without going overboard.

I could have added so many more items to the panel, but I wanted to keep it simple but still convey the idea of a general/country store. I didn’t want the background to take away from the characters, Hal, looking at a soda can, and Sam, speaking to the proprietor behind the counter. In another panel I show candy jars and Hal reaching onto a pickle barrel, but it’s not all in one panel.

Lars talks about having to have certain scenes in his comic because he thought of that scene in his head and didn’t want to change that. I have changed scenes often, I’ve changed angles and people in the scene. I’m not as strict as Lars. He calls them, “Carved in stone first drafts.”

Lars has four tips for time saving, I won’t give them away here since I do want people to watch his video. But one thing he talks about is being “lazy” and what he means is that to save time, you have to be lazy in some instances – like in Anime comics, there is not much movement, whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot of time saving in drawing, he shows an example on his video. Also, not spending a lot of time on backgrounds and details in every single comic and every single panel saves time – a lot of time.

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Pumpkin and apple picking in the Hudson Valley

Earlier this month, I think on October 5, a couple of my cousins and I drove upstate from New York City. We went to Poughkeepsie and Highland, which are on either side of the Hudson River. It was the 10th anniversary of the Walkway Over the Hudson. It was originally a train bridge during World War II and 10 years ago, it was turned into a walking bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects Highland and Poughkeepsie. The walkway is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.

It’s an incredible walk, the walk itself, but I mean the view. We had hoped to see fall leaves, which I believe are red and yellow now, but October 5 it was still warm and the leaves hadn’t turned yet. But it was a beautiful day. So nice, so peaceful and it’s gorgeous up there.

We had lunch at a place on the river, drove over the other bridge, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which takes car traffic, to get there.

The best part, or maybe just as great as the walkway was a stop at DuBois Farms, where we went pumpkin and apple picking. It’s a real farm with animals and so many other features like prepared food and drinks, weekend BBQ’s, a tavern on site and so much more – so beautiful, check them out here: duboisfarms.com.

This was the same week as NY Comic Con, so we went from that hectic scene, to the serene scene of the Hudson Valley. A perfect fall week.

Drawing sailboats

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Since Hal and High Water is about two friends taking off on a sailboat, I had to learn to draw a sailboat. At first I liked the idea of an old rickety fishing boat, but how would they sail around the world on that, so I had to change to sailboat.

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I didn’t want to get too technical with the drawings because first off, it’s not my style of drawing and it’s too complicated for a comic strip; a sailboat has so much rigging and details that it would be too much to draw this daily.

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For the first strips, they need to be in the boat since that is the premise of the strip, but as the strip goes on, they will get off and see the ports of call, the places where they dock.

I kept the drawing simple, but you can tell that it’s a sailboat. In one strip I show them sleeping in bunks below the deck. They have a kitchen/galley and it’s a nice size boat.

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In a lot of the strips I show the boat only once, in one panel, to establish their location. Since there is dialogue, I have the characters on or below deck, but you don’t see the full boat of course, like this image below.

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Here Sam is steering the vessel (that’s Hal to the right) and you see the steering wheel and some rigging and the sail itself to the left, and the railing, but not much else.

I use photos and I’ve always lived around boats, so I go out to the marinas in my neighborhood and I take photos of the boats from various angles so that I can use them as guides when I draw.

Benilda

hal-and-high-water-benildaBenilda – that’s the name of Hal’s wife. In the first strip Benilda throws Hal out and that’s where her name is used. We don’t see her, but she’s a character. I’m sure we’ll see her in the future, but for now, she is talked about but not seen.

Where did I get the name Benilda? It’s the name of a client of mine, but I’ve never met her! She purchases office items from me, she orders online regularly and it all happens online, we’ve never met, never spoken on the phone, I’m not even sure if we’ have an email conversation. Orders come in, they are from Benilda, they are processed and shipped. She’s ordered for many years and every so often, there she is, her name pops up – an order from Benilda.

I can’t even think of her last name at the moment, but with a name like Benilda, you don’t need a last name, like Cher or Madonna or Prince.

I love the sound of Benilda and so I used it as the main woman in the Hal and High Water Strip – who is currently not seen!

NEXT BLOG POST:  DRAWING BOATS – LOTS OF BOATS

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Getting Hal ready for his close-up

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These are the first two panels of my new Hal and High Water comic strip. I’ve been working on it every day, getting it ready for publication.

I’m trying to get the story going fast, I don’t want to drag out the story, you know, explaining how Hal and his best friend Beau get into their current situation, I want the adventure to start right off, so I’m wrestling with that – do I explain it all for a few weeks’ worth of strips, or just get into the action after a week or so of strips?

I could do a flashback, you know, start off with them being out in the wilderness and then backtrack, you know, have a few strips later on titled, “How it all began.” Hmm, maybe, I like that idea.

Anyway, I need readers and fans, so hope you’ll be one of them. You can find the strip online somewhere daily, not sure where yet, but on social media, you can find Hal at these links below. When the strip starts publishing, I’ll post it daily on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter, I’ll use that for conversation, sharing cartooning stories, blog posts and things like that. Here are the links:

Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater

NEXT BLOG POST: Where did the name Benilda come from?

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