Stop and smell the art

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It rained on Sunday, so I went to the MET Museum in New York, I mean I would have gone anyway, but usually I go the day after Thanksgiving as a tradition. And this time I did something different. I didn’t take pictures, or many pictures. I did post a few on Facebook, but then after a bit I put my phone/camera down and enjoyed the experience, which is something we don’t do these days.

No matter where we are, we are looking through the camera and not enjoying the actual experience. At the museum, at concerts, at a party at a ball game at a parade – everywhere, we are not enjoying the experience, we are missing it by trying to get the best photos.

There was a time at museums and concerts, where you were not permitted to take photos. Now they are permitted to do that, I guess they can’t control it anymore; and at concerts, videos are allowed, but for some reason they don’t like that at museums. They’ll allow snap shots but not videos. I got yelled at this past summer for taking videos at the MET.

Anyway, I put my camera away and enjoyed the experience and it was quite enjoyable. I was tempted to take the camera out when I saw others buried in their phones among the most magnificent art in the world – the Masters and ancient Egyptian and Chinese antiquities. I’m not sure what was so important on their phones, but Egypt and Matisse and Van Gogh and the rest were not as interesting, I guess.

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‘Ziggy’ installation at Flatiron District

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I’m in NYC this week for Thanksgiving. I managed to get 30 Hal and High Water comic strips done before I left Miami. I submitted all 30 to the four major syndicates. Now I can enjoy NY.

This is a new installation at the Flatiron District, it’s right below the Flatiron Building which was hard to show in pictures because it’s all dark and scaffolded, they’re doing some sort of work on it.

But that intersection where 5th Avenue and Broadway meets is all lit up like this.

It’s the winner of the sixth annual “Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition,” called “Ziggy,” created by New York-based architecture, art, and design studio Hou de Sousa. You can walk through it and interact. And since the Flatiron building is dark these days, it gives tourists something to focus on in that area.

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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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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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Drawing Hal

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This is the first panel of the first reincarnation of “Hal an High Water.” I started it yesterday.

halI kept putting it off until the time was right, there were things that I was working out in my head and on paper and eventually digitally. I wasn’t happy with the Hal I had originally, his nose was too far from his head, it looked great in black and white, but when color was added it had a strange look. And his hair, I thought it was too much, too out there, he needed a haircut. This image here is the previous Hal.

I was also working on boats since boats and particularly sailboats are a big part of the strip.

I know it looked as if I wasn’t doing anything, but I was working it all out in my head and finally it all came together.

But once I felt things were right I got right into it. It’s taking about two hours for each strip to be done from start to final coloring. I need to get that down to an hour, which I will. But I’m into it. I really am enjoying Hal and the actual work. As I stated before, I prefer drawing single panel cartoons but decided at this time a comic strip was the way to go and it’s working out well.

For updates on the progress, you can follow me on social media here:
Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater