Grumpy that that this blog hasn’t posted much?
Get ready for the info dump that’ll make everything clearer.
Once upon a time, in July 2010, I got in contact with Mr. Chad Bowers of MonsterPlus infamy. He was looking to relaunch his ghoulish hero and needed an artist. I enthusiastically applied.
In the end I didn’t get the job. But I’m happy to tip my hat to Jojo Seames. That gal can pull a page together in a way that I haven’t even dreamed of yet. Anyway, bulldogs come into play because in addition to being interested in drawing MonsterPlus (I am SUCH a sucker for anything paranormal) I also enjoy Mr. Bowers other project, Awesome Hospital. His co-creation with Mr. Sims enchanted me since it debuted. After a flurry of sketches of Mr. Plus, I cooled down with Dr. Bulldog on a Skateboard, or Paul, as he’s known in the office.
I submitted that sketch to them and waited to see if I got the job. In almost the same breath that I was told I was not going to be drawing Monster+, I was told that I could – if I wanted – draw a short comic about Dr. BOAS.
OF COURSE I WANTED THAT.
It was serendipity that I drew Dr. BOAS. I knew nothing of their plans to ask me to draw this other comic. They didn’t even know which doctor that they wanted to feature. My unexpected sketch resolved that problem nicely.
Whew. It’s still pretty overwhelming to think about. My whole motive for starting this blog was to draw comics and comic related things. If people stop by THAT’S AWESOME, but I’ll keep plugging along with no audience. After having no real aspiration beyond comicking for myself, to be invited to draw a comic for one of my favorite strips. OH MAN.
For most of the summer and the fall I knew that I was going to be in charge of a four-page, bulldog-centric comic. Man, did I get to sketching bulldogs.
Fun Fact: Bulldogs are not the easiest of subjects. I still thank my stars that Dr. BOAS was the chosen doctor. Animals I find easier to draw then people, so it was nice that in my first foray into comicdom I didn’t need to fret about, well, it being my first comic job and how poorly I draw people. My victory was short-lived when I realized that the proportions of a bulldog are quite odd. Those damnable jowls make it almost impossible to convey any emotion! And that teetering hunk of a dog somehow is balanced delicately on a skateboard? Oh man.
A lot of pages looked like this. A lot of pages were just erased. I’m convinced that 90% of Youtube views for “bulldog skateboard” were mine. Basically, what I’m trying to convey is that there was a lot of bulldog sketching in my life. ‘S not something that I ever though would be a constant, but that is what is so wonderful about this line of work.
I always find it easier to sketch when I can put my subject is part of a narrative [Hey- that might be why I like this sequential stuff so dang much!] as a result there were many pages of sketches with my own gags.
This last one is my favorite. I’m not in love with the background or the shading, but the domination of two of comics top dogs? By Dr. BOAS? I’m definitely a fan of that idea. I’m also digging Ace’s mode of transportation.
UNTIL All Hallow’s Eve, when….!
Well that was the day that I got the script. Oh, and the news that the first strip could go up the 2nd or the 4th, you know, whenever I had it. WHOA. Let’s take a minute, shall we? I just got the script, don’t we have like a month to talk about things? Okay, I didn’t think that I had a month to mull over the page, but the thought of having it done the next night while working two jobs….oh, that was a punch in the gut. That week I ended up axing off my 4-9pm job, but I still had the 7-3pm job and the idea of getting a comic out the next night…. Phew! I still hold my head thinking about that.
Obviously, I opted for the first strip to go up the 4th.
The schedule was this weird love-hate relationship. I loved seeing all of my hard work up on someone’s website- damn it man! Comics that I drew were on someone else’s site! Not just any site, but Awesome Hospital! I still am slapping myself to make sure that this all happened. I know that it seems like small potatoes, but I don’t know. I guess it’s that recipe when your expecting nothing to happen, and then something does happen? I really had no aspirations for this website and now I’m drawing comics for people that I really respect? It blows me out of the water.
Anyway, there was also that hate aspect to the schedule relationship. Mostly it boils down to the hatred of feeling pressure, but that goes with my procrastinator side. Getting work done is not something I do easily (does anyone?) but I was helped immensely by the initial directive I got from Chris Sims: Have fun. I wrote that in huge letters in front of me on my wall and anytime something felt frustrating I just looked to that. That might sound nice and self-helpy, but it really did help me focus. It also helped me to have fun. Then again, there was this whole idea of drawing a doctor bulldog that is also an investigator looking into the murder of an old skateboarding grandfather that made it a fun job. Yeah, things like that helped a little.
I was laughing audibly at the script whenever I had it. I was able to bug the crap out of Chad and Chris whenever I needed feedback. Really, ANYTIME. If that wasn’t enough I didn’t even have to fret about lettering because Josh took care of that. It might seem like a small thing – but listen to me people – I have NO IDEA how to letter. Sure, I’ll learn, but if I was asked to do this comic and had to think about bulldogs, murders, doctors, skateboards, femme fatales, and lettering? I would have been miserable with worry.
My biggest problems with these comics were: the format that I chose to work in, Red Snapper and time management. Because no one likes to dwell on regrets I’ll run through them briefly:
1) I am no Rembrandt with photoshop. So when I was asked to do a 800x600px comic I was prepared! But I never thought further than that. I understood that those dimensions should be a scanned 11×17 piece of comic board sideways, but because I did not bother to check I was scared and did everything entirely on photoshop. I know that when I scan a picture and then color it it is a cleaner result, but with the time I allowed myself I went for efficiency instead over aesthetic. I’m not sure how much a difference it would have made, but making any choice instead of aesthetic is -in the art world – the wrong choice.
2) Red Snapper [Fun fact: Apparently our good neighbors in the UK use the term 'Red Snapper' to refer to lady parts. That was fun to learn!] Someone called me out on this in the comments, and they were very right: Red Snapper is Jessica Rabbit with a haircut. That was not intentional, but it happened. When I think of femme fatale me and my Tex Avery training always circle back to Jessica. I worked with it for hours (every page averaged 6-9 hours of work) and did not notice it. I was pressed for time and I ran with what worked. The second that it was posted though – I saw it and damned myself for not giving myself more time.
3) All of that of course circles back to – say it with me everybody!- Time Management! I learned a great lesson, but I hate that I learned it at Awesome Hospital’s expense. The short of it is that I’ve got a bad work ethic and I didn’t alott for time like I should have. Overall, that means that the pages suffered in quality and that I was late with a page. I don’t think I was ever reprimanded once for my sloppiness, but I still feel it. Taking on the job was a promise of certain work, at a scheduled time and I could have done more. Then again it’s those lovely hard-learned lessons that’ll stick with me the longest.
The pun is slightly intended, but everyone at Awesome Hospital is AWESOME. I obviously think that Chad, Chris, and Josh are the bees knees, but there wasn’t a moment where I felt under-valued. Everyone that took the time to comment did it thoughtfully and more often than not with words better than I deserve. What was really exciting was that Matt Digges led the commenting charge. Since Matt was the (fantastic) artist that I was relieving I didn’t expect to interact with him. Was I proven wrong! He was a regular commenter!
To reiterate, sum up, put-to-bed: THANK YOU to Awesome Hospital for hosting me. I encourage everyone to go seek out these gentlemens different endeavors and patronize them (the good way) heartily.
And for those of you screaming to the heavens for why this RSS has not been posting? There you go, a ~1700 word explanation for my absence.
My work on Awesome Hospital starts here.
But these are the comics/blogs that you should check out!
Matt Digges’ Sequential Life
Chris Sims’ The Invincible Super Blog
And OF COURSE: