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

Lots of super heroes at NY Comic Con

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I went back to NY Comic Con on Sunday, it was a bit gloomy on opening day, Thursday, I guess due to the rainy weather in NY, but on Sunday, it was really fun. There were thousands upon thousands of people there.

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And each year, the costumes and the co-play gets better and better. Spider-man seems to be the most popular and they all seem to congregate. This is only a few who were photographed together, before I took this photo, there were about a dozen or so.

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I try to capture the crowds, I posted videos on social media and it doesn’t do it justice, there are just so many people – all happy, all patient, you have to be in this crowd.

So another year has come to an end. Keep the NY Comic Con website handy and sign up for updates so you can get in on next year’s event: newyorkcomiccon.com. It comes up pretty fast.

Another wild year at New York Comic Con

I attended the first day of New York Comic Con, which opened today, October 3. It was a bit rainy after a day yesterday, of 91 degree temps, so the drizzle felt good in the cooler, 55 degree weather today.

The crowds were there as usual, it was a mess getting in and getting out. And this weekend of course will bring even more people.

I was disappointed to see that GoComics.com did not have their usual booth where you could meet and greet your favorite cartoonists every year, I always look forward to that and I think that is the reason I started going to comic con years ago. Instead it looked as if they had a promo for The Far Side comic, which seems like it’s coming back in January and I guess Andrews McMeel, the owner of Go Comics, wished to promote that, which was a smart idea, but all the same I miss meeting my favorite cartoonists as in previous years.

I’m loving the linked cartoons

I’m in New York this week for Comic Con which starts Thursday. I’ll post lots of pics once I go. But I saw something today that I love.

I’m always looking for ways for comics to be shared. I wrote recently about the subway, a thought I had for many years, you know, a single panel cartoon where ads or maps are placed now.

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Here is a Link NYC station and you can see the comic right there.

But today I came upon something at the Link NYC site. If you don’t know what that is, Link NYC are stations in areas where old pay phones used to be and the Link is a free service all over the city where you can get free wifi, charge your electronics, get information, see the news and even make free phone calls! And I saw today that there is a New Yorker cartoon on the Link along with the ads and news! Love that.

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This cartoon rotates with ads and news and such. 

As people walk by they can get a chuckle along with seeing the news and weather, etc.

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Here is an ad that rotates on the Link.

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This is the front of the Link NYC were you operate, link in, charge, make calls, etc.

She doesn’t like the name Hal

halI live in a condo and last night I was at a condo meeting. At one point, my next door neighbor looked over at me, sort of angrily, and she said, “I have a bone to pick with you!” I wondered what I had done.

She asked me, “Why did you name your comic strip what you did?” She was referring to Hal and High Water. I didn’t know what she meant at first. She went on, “You know, Hal!” and she looked over to one of our neighbors by that name, a guy who she despises. He is the type of neighbor who usually throws a monkey wrench into all of our plans, just last night he threatened to sue the building if we didn’t do something he wanted. So he is a despised character around here.

I had to explain that “Hal and High Water” refers to the expressions, “Hell and high water,” or “Hell or high water.” She had never heard that before.

But I was glad to see that she knew about my new comic strip which I’m working on now, hopefully ready for a New Year’s Day publication date. The more readers the better!

Gary Larson is forcing my hand

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After posting about how much I love single panel comics, I see that The Far Side is coming back. Everyone is making a big deal about changes on the website here: thefarside.com. It’s been updated after years of being dormant.

Could it be reruns or new stuff? Speculation is that it will start up again on January 1, 2020 because it first appeared on January 1, 1980. So will it start up again fresh, will it be reruns or what on January 1, 2020? Of course I think we all hope for new stuff!

Anyway, to that end, how can I compete, how can anyone compete? After Gary Larson left the scene on January 1, 1997 (Gary likes January 1st), there were lots of new single panel comics appearing to try and fill the space left.

Now the Gemini in me has changed course regarding my comic strip/panel. I’m thinking of now starting up a strip, rather than a panel and have a usual sitcom style thing going.

I like the name I trademarked in the past, “Hal and High Water,” and originally it was about living in a world where the whole planet is submerged due to global warming, but now with the major hurricanes we are seeing these past few years and the real threat of global warming, it doesn’t seem like a funny idea to play around with in a comic strip. So I’ll keep the name “Hal and High Water,” and keep Hal and one or two of the other characters and reformat it.

The premise is explained like this on Twitter: “Comic strip. Hal’s wife threw him out. Now he ends up traveling the world in an old rickety boat with his best friend. Adventures await!”

It’s a bit more exciting than that and I see a lot of interesting and fun things happening. I’d like to incorporate my own travels into the strip and use real scenery that I encounter. I’ve been practicing drawing lots of boats lately, I guess that will be a big feature in the strip.

I’m not sure of a start date, but was thinking of January 1, 2020, too. If it’s good enough for Gary Larson . . .

Anyway, I’ll post on a website, not sure where yet, and also daily on Facebook and Instagram. You may not realize, but Instagram is really a great place to read comics, with the feature where you can swipe through the panels, it’s an excellent place to find new comics.

You can follow along now for updates and things like that along with Twitter.

Here are the social media 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

My brush with cartooning greatness

Lee Salem passed away earlier this week. I had conversations with Lee about cartooning and also Jay Kennedy, both heads of the big cartoon syndicates – Lee ran Universal Press Syndicate (now known as Andrew McMeel and GoComics.com) and Jay ran King Features.

In the mid 1990s I had sent them my work and they both liked it and both engaged with me. In other words, I didn’t receive form letters of rejection, which is usually the case, they were both nice enough to reject me personally.

In Lee’s case, he felt that my work was too much like The Far Side, which I believe had just ceased publication around that time. Today there seems to be many panel cartoons in that vein, but I guess right after Gary Larson left the scene, they didn’t want copies cropping up. I didn’t realize I was doing the same thing, but I must have been influenced enough by Gary that I was drawing weird single panel comics.

far-sideBut look at this famous Far Side comic panel; still hysterical today, just as it was the day it was published. I felt it was a compliment to be compared to him.

I’ve always loved single panel comics. I’m not sure why, but I was always drawn to them more than comic strips. Maybe it’s the concise nature, where you only have the one space to tell your story in the most economic way. I’m really not sure. I still love Hazel and Charles Addams, Out Our Way, They’ll Do It Every Time, Flubs & Fluffs, Dennis the Menace and so many more. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy comic strips, but I do find myself drawn the less wordy ones, so maybe that’s why I like panels; they’re less wordy.

In Jay’s case, I remember receiving a personally written note from him, I have it somewhere and I’ll share it some time when I find it, but he encouraged me to continue my work and he asked to buy some of the current submissions and for the next few years I was part of “The New Breed,” which featured single panel cartoons by various cartoonists each day.

I would send the syndicate a bunch, maybe 20 or 25 at a time and they would purchase maybe five of them. They would send back the ones they wanted edited (change this word, move that shading, things like that) and I would make the changes and send the comic back and it was published in about 300 daily newspapers a few weeks later. Many who are published today started cartooning for The New Breed feature. It was a way for them to groom cartoonists before the internet.

I regret not continuing with them after a couple of years. I had started a business and that took off and I guess I became too busy to continue with the comics on a regular basis. A less than smart decision on my part at the time, although I’ve lived a very good life thanks to my business.

I’m ready to start publishing again. I’m preparing comics for daily publication, I keep going back and forth between a strip and my single panel Tomversation comic, which I tend to love more.