Wednesday, February 6, 2019

On Streamlining And Sanity

The Key To Good Work Is Finding The Time To Do It

As comic artists, we all know the importance of taking time for our art. But what do you do when you love many arts?
It's a question I've had to ask many times. Currently, I have 2(or 3, depending on how you count) blogs. A book series for sale. A webcomic. And a business.
For many of us, our creations are like flesh and blood children. We love them. We work for their wellbeing. We take care of them.
But sometimes the kids wear mom/dad out. What to do?

Here's some ideas:

  • Write up a to-do list with solid deadlines (or semi-solid deadlines). Seeing the things that need work puts them in perspective. Many times, your tasks seem overwhelming partly because they're nebulous. Checking the tasks off one by one is a good morale boost.
  • Prioritize. Are you getting enough out of each thing you're working on? What is it bringing you? Really ask yourself what it's worth.
  • Streamline and Combine. I found myself that, many times, you will realize you're running redundant projects. Have a blog and a book series? A blog and a comic? Consider hosting one on the other unless you have a definite reason to avoid that. This is a plus for a number of reasons:
    • More content in one place=more viewers
    • Less pressure to keep up social media presence for multiple projects
    • More peace of mind for you!
  • Be Realistic. If you say you're going to get nine things done in a day and pull off four, you're going to feel down. Of course you are. So schedule yourself for doing four things. If you get more done, great! If not, you have time.
  • Schedule. Plan your schedule out, with realistic time slots. A) it helps keep things in perspective, and B) things don't fall through the cracks. I do mine months in advance!
  • Use A Post Scheduler For Social Media. I like Buffer, personally. Through the year I collect neat articles in a saved collection. On a weekend in January, I set up the social media for all my projects. My blogs are linked to their pages, so they feed directly into social media. This is such a weight off the creative mind!
  • Take Care Of Yourself. If you feel like crap, you're probably going to produce crap. Athletes train and rest between training. Do the same, mental athlete.
To that end, I'm taking my own advice. As of February 28, the Strip Show will no longer have its own social media presence. All its posts and content will appear in the social media of 'Parmeshen', my personal webcomic. If you'd like to keep up, the content will pop up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And, of course, right here. 
See you there!
-The MC

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Winter Intermission

I'm using these last weeks of the year to write manifold reviews and rebuild a buffer. Check back on the New Year for new reviews!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Revue September 23: Pride Of Baghdad

Raise Your Eyes And Prepare Your Soul For

 Based on a true story from the American bombing of Iraq in 2003, this work is a painful and powerful searching of our souls through the eyes of animals. The story in Pride of Baghdad  revolves around four African lions, the pride of the Baghdad zoo. When American military forces launched their airstrike during their invasion on Iraq, the wall of their enclosure is destroyed, and the pride escapes into ruined city of Baghdad.

What follows is fascinating and heart-wrenching. Pride Of Baghdad was written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Niko Henrichon. It can be read for free at this link and bought at this link. 

The Rating

A beautiful and arresting view of ourselves through the eyes of those we share the world with.

The Raves 

This is a story of the war that cuts through the politics. The endless recriminations. The self justifications. It is a stark story, clean and brutal as a lion's tooth. Through the clean sanity of animals focused on daily survival, we see our own insanity reflected.  Through eyes that see no justifications, we are forced to look at the true brutality of an urban war.
The art style is masterful in its atmospheric clarity. The writing is as clean as a knife blade. The characterization blends uncompromising truth and surprising compassion in an uneasy and well-performed dance. The writing is crisp, clean and witty enough to keep you engaged at all times.
As the pride walks bewildered through a world blown out of kilter, we are forced again and again to reflect on the choices made and the history that leads us to stand where we are in the world. It asks us to ask ourselves not only 'was this right?' but 'do we have the right?'

The Razzes

Nothing to report here. This work is heartrendingly gorgeous.

The Revue

More Americans, especially, need to read this comic. It is as beautiful and as painful as the sparkle of light on shattered glass in the street.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday Revue September 2: Abducted

Get In The Ship And Hang On Tight For

Ah travel. Learn new things, make new friends...and new enemies...
Asher is not having a good intergalactic trip. He didn't really want to go either. In fact, he was ABDUCTED. But now he's out in the galaxy with no way home. 
It looks like it's going to be a long week...

The work of Michael Battle, Abducted can be read at this link

The Rating

Your Sunday morning jaunt of choice

The Raves

The first thing that strikes a reader about this piece is the pacing. It is wonderfully reminiscent of the best weekend cartoons, clipping along on a sea of surprises, jokes and occasional slapstick, with deeper currents of lessons on self esteem and empathy. The whole thing is accented with hints of deep, dangerous mystery. 
It's a fun little story. It definitely keeps things simple (maybe a little simplistic at times.) An enemy is made when condiments are spilled on his suit, for example. But the tone fits the age of the character.

The comic is a wonderful example of evolution in art style. The creator began with a good grasp of the basic conventions and effects, and worked hard to improve a sense of proportion and master color and shading. At this point in the work, it's really coming into its own and is lovely to look at. Perspective, composition, anatomy, color and style are all nicely applied.

The Razzes

The thing that could use the most work: cat anatomy. Not a big deal, but since one of the main characters is an anthropoid cat and his anatomy is consistently off, it's worth working on.  In a lot of these images, Cairo's shoulders and neck seem uncomfortably small and overly straight. It doesn't strike the viewer as alien anatomy, but as poor anatomical drawing.

Here's one idea: add a fur ruff. Looking at cats, you'll realize that most of them have a thick ruff of fur around the throat. Without it, the feline throat just looks wrong.
Beyond that, shoulders. Feline shoulders are narrower than homonid shoulders, but they are neatly bunched and triangular when a cat's standing on its hind legs. They are still there.

Beyond those thoughts I think SilverBlood gives the best advice.

The Revue

Grab your fruit loops and give it a read. It'll be a good day.