My little VoyageMIA interview

VoyageMia, did a little interview with me regarding my comics, you can see it here.

It’s only a few questions. It reminds me of when I did my Ten With Tom column for the Huffington Post. I am thinking of getting back to that, I met so many interesting people through it.

You can see some of them posted here on this blog.

Social interactions

I’m trying to think what life was like before social media or before reader interaction. Even when I started blogging in 2005, there were comments. Good or bad, you always knew what the reader thought.

As much as I say I don’t like comments or interactions on social media, I think I do. Basically because it’s nice to see people responding to my comics. It’s not that I need likes and shares, but it’s nice knowing that people are seeing the work and enjoying it (or not) enough to leave a simple thumb’s up.

I have a friend who is against social media, and it sort of reminds me of him saying something like, “Is life about how many likes you get?” No, no it’s not, but when you write a book or paint a picture or produce a movie, you do want people to like and respond to your work.

Which makes me think of what life was like for cartoonists before social media, and maybe even today for those who are published daily in the newspapers. They create the comic and it’s published and then what? Crickets? There is an audience, but no instant response like you would have with a live audience. But I guess that’s how tv and movies have been for years, you put it out there and don’t instantly get the audiences response. Do they like it? Are they watching?

With social media, it’s instant and the reader is part of the process, right there – live.

One place where I don’t interact is on Instagram – not the comments section, I do interact there, but I’m talking about the private messages. The main reason is because most of it, 9 out of 10, are spam. But I did make a mistake last week of responding to a reader and it ended up being a bad thing – he was one of those stalker types who wanted to argue, so I regretted reading his messages and then responding to them. I won’t do that again.

But other than that, it’s nice to get a response of some sort, even a simple thumb’s up. Sort of like getting applause on a stage or something, knowing the audience is out there.

Life below zero

Yesterday’s “Ice Hole” cartoon got a big reaction and lots of shares on social media. I try to be cerebral but I guess the simpler and crazy ones are what the masses like.

This comic came to me while watching one of my favorite shows, Life Below Zero. I wasn’t really paying attention, I think I was dozing off, and I heard Chip Hailstone, one of the people on the show, say to his kids, who were going ice fishing, “Hey, there’s an ice hole!” And it made me look up and laugh and just totally struck me as being hilarious. And voil√† – there was a comic idea.

I played around with it a bit. At first there was a bear hibernating behind a bush and he heard the guys say “ice hole,” and he looked up with one eye open. It was titled, “Trouble Brewing,” but I couldn’t get the image setting right, so I made it another ice fisher.

Oh yea, one more thing. People think those are women. They are men. But as I see them as women, I think it’s even funnier – sort of like Lucy and Ethel go ice fishing.

Slap dash and energetic

I read a recent review of a cartoonist who worked around the turn of the century – last century, and it said the cartoonist had a “slap-dash, energetic style,” which today’s reviewer liked. It made me take notice because one of the cartoon syndicate heads said that I draw too fast.

Would he have liked my work better if I drew slower?

I was fascinated that he said that because he never saw me draw, but he’s right, I do draw fast. It’s just the way I work. I watch movies and documentaries on cartoonists, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I see how slow they work. They are so meticulous with every line and I wonder how they ever get anything done at that rate. But they are syndicated and I’m not. So maybe there is something to the speed at which one works.

But look at the photo above, that’s me working at home – see that John Lennon painting? That’s a large 4′ x 6′ piece of art I bought at a charity auction years ago. It’s by an artist named Michael Israel. He does those “art attack” things, where he paints the image upside down in about 20 minutes, he turns it around and there you have an incredible piece of art! He works fast and comes out with masterpieces, so there may be something to slap dash and energetic.

I hate when that happens

This cartoon ran yesterday. People really liked it. It was shared hundreds of times on social media. Only there is a mistake – Patagonia is spelled wrong! An amateur mistake to be sure. A reader pointed that out to me so I panicked and changed it to the one you see here below.

It’s not the same, the shading in the background had to be changed to accommodate the change. But it’s bothering me because it’s such a popular cartoon and all those people who shared it, shared a misspelled cartoon. I don’t think they know, but I know and it bothers me, a lot.

I had every country in the world to choose from and I chose a country I didn’t know how to spell. Murphy’s Law.

Hand Drawn Life

I watched a documentary over the weekend called, “Hand Drawn Life,” it’s available on Vimeo and right here of course, and if you have a smart tv, you can watch it on large screen using their app. It’s listed as, “HDL_FINAL_FULL_Texted_1205” on Vimeo.

Hand Drawn Life just won a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for best Independent Programming for its airing on KCET-PBS. It’s about the history of cartooning and interviews a number of cartoonists who talk about the craft, their work and the work of many others.

The past few years I’ve watched quite a few cartooning interviews and documentaries. Two great documentaries are, “Dear Mr. Watterson,” which is about Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and “Stripped,” which I got through a kickstarter a few years back, but I see you can purchase it here for just $4.99. Stripped interviews 70 cartoonists about the craft. They are both very enjoyable.

I also found a list of cartoonist interviews on Google here. I’ve watched some of these over the years, too.

What if it happened today?

This I Love Lucy comic was published today. It’s one of my favorites. I changed it a lot throughout yesterday, adding something, removing something, changing an arm, etc. It’s a classic episode that I think everyone knows.

I like taking something from the past, like a tv show, and putting it in the present to see how things would change. I did it with the Columbo comic in May and people liked it.

I have other ideas in mind for future comics and if you have any, feel free to email me with an idea of your own.

It’s all about the coffee

The last two comics published yesterday and today are coffee related. I guess I have coffee on my mind. Maybe it’s because I gave up drinking coffee a couple of months ago. I’ve been drinking green tea instead of my usual two or more cups of coffee a day!

The rough. Yes, this is a comic idea from a few years back.
That’s Jacomo diving into the coffee and Tombo asking, “How does he do that?”

The above comic was originally planned for Jacomo and Tombo, remember them? The mole and the rabbit comic I used to have called “Paws?” Jacomo was swimming in the coffee and Tombo was reacting. In theory anyway, I had this old scribble on my desk and I drew it as the comic above rather than having Jacomo doing the swimming.

This other one which is running today was also a scribble I had on my desk. I actually have hundreds of scribbles on scraps of paper. People ask me where I get my ideas from, I don’t really know, but I do scribble them down when they cross my mind. Sometimes they marinate for years until I use them.

Today’s comic

My comics goals

comicsFor most of my life, I daresay for all of my life, my goal was to have a daily comic strip on the newspapers. A syndicated comic strip was my life’s dream.

For a few years – maybe 10 or so, I dropped that dream, I started a business and concentrated on that. I’m not a businessman or into that, but that was my life. I think I didn’t see a future in comics for anyone and I felt that the dream was dead.

But then it resurrected and my goal was to be published and be in print. I only had that goal in mind. I felt that comics were created for newspapers and that is the only place to be if you created a comic strip or panel. It was like producing a movie – you want it on the big screen. But things change.

Now I am not interested in being in print, which was a shock and horror moment for me to even conceive of this. It was so out of my normal thinking. But in reality, the readers are online. I myself have stopped reading comics in newspapers years ago. For one thing, I never care for the selection the newspapers have and I can pick and choose what I like.

Even with movies, there is a brand new world out there. You get more viewers for most movies on Netflix and Amazon than you do in the theaters. And that is how comics are.

My goal is to have millions of followers on social media – especially on Instagram. Yes, I said millions! And this is not a strange concept. Many cartoonists have millions of followers and many have hundreds of thousands! That’s where people are reading comics.

I have quite a nice following on Facebook and it’s growing on Instagram. I also publish on my own website. Eventually I would like to be part of GoComics and I’ve been working on getting press lately. I think if I get local or national press, it will give me a big bump in readership.

A life in comics

This is a little snippet about the Hy Eisman “A Life in Comics” documentary. There is a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the completion of the film. I donated the other day.

Cartoonist Hy Eisman, is a cartoonist of over 70 years. You’ve seen his work. He produced The Katzenjammer Kids and Popeye, doing both Sunday strips at the same time – the writing and drawing. And each had their own feel.

Mr. Eisman continues to cartoon today.