Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Doc Monster meets the FRANKENSTEIN Astronaut!

(Click the image to see it bigger!)

Bam!  Oh, come on...how could I resist the idea of Doc meeting Frankenstein's monster on a 1960's rocket launch pad?  You would have stopped everything to do it too!  This is a landmark piece for me, as there is exactly 0% Photoshop coloring going on here (well, aside from the lettering).  It's done on comic board with pen and ink, copic grayscale markers, watercolor and colored pencils.  I was going for a kind of homage to the great James Bama, Doc Savage book covers...tightly limited palette of color, with lots of atmosphere.  I'm pretty pleased with it. :)
Here's a look at the original art, which is for sale in my Comicart Gallery.
Alright. Play time is over. Time to get Doc, Clay and Carol out of that alien jam!
-Dave


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doc Pin-up in Progress

Well folks, I'm working on something nifty to show you instead of the next panel in the story.  It's an idea that just grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let me go until I was working on it.

This will probably be the most ambitious piece that I will have ever done...and it's got me anxious.  So far, I'm super pleased, though..so I'm hopeful.  I'm getting ready to disappear from the interwebs for a week to work on a special project (more on that later), so I won't be able to finish it this week. 

So, here's a peek of it in-progress.  Doc is looking good and he's got a pretty spiffy raygun.  Oh yes, there MUST be rayguns.

I want SO bad to tell you more about what the piece is about....but I want it to be a surprise.  Just one hint, though....expect to see one of the Universal Monsters in there.....

The Artist - Learning to Love your Crap

Your art is crap.  You know this to be true.

What you may not realize is that Norman Rockwell, Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso thought the same thing.  AND they were right.

See, here's the thing.  Being an artist is the act of chasing after the impossible.  You're trying to bring an idea to life.  Not. Possible.  At best, all you can do is give the impression of the idea to others, so they can look at your art and say "Huh.  That's a cool idea."

Unfortunately for us insecure, introverted, creative types, giving someone a garbled idea of what we meant isn't what we were striving for, and that's depressing.
In fact, if you are thinking about seriously pursuing art, then you're in for a long-term relationship with disappointment.

And so, we give up.  It's the only rational choice, after all.

I mean, who wants to live a life full of disappointment?

Well, you do, actually.  I mean, if you are in fact an artist, you'll be miserable if you're NOT making art.  Heh, heh....  Caught, aren't you?  Unhappy if you make art and miserable if you're not. There's nothing that you can do about being miserable because you're NOT making art, but there IS stuff you can do ABOUT making art.

What you can do is to learn to love your crap.

Here is why you should: taking a crap idea or inspiration and putting it out where it can affect others (even a tiny bit) is 100 percent better than thinking a great idea and doing nothing.

Think about everyone you know who is writing a book.  Or, I should say, everyone who SAYS they are writing a book, but in fact don't have anything more than part of one chapter and a crummy outline.
If you do ONE piece of crap art and put it out where people can see it, you have catipulted beyond where your friend is....from the hopeful creator to the REAL THING.  Yes, it's crap, and you know this, but the sheer fact that you have actually DONE anything sets you apart.  It makes you an artist. (You might actually be able to make some money off of that crap.)

And here's the sweet part: The more crap you make, the better you get at making it.
I'm not saying it won't be crap, mind you, but it will be improved.  And maybe, if you keep improving, then every once in a while, you'll do something that isn't crap.

Won't that be worth it?  Isn't that what you really want....to NOT make crap?

Well, there's only one way down that road, my friend, and that's by making a bunch of crap and trying like hell to make every piece the best you can.

Do NOT be subdued or sidetracked when you have failed.  If a piece is a failure, it does NOT mean YOU are a failure. 

YOU are an artist.  And if you have made crap...you have proof of that.
Now, carry on.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vmmmmmmmmm

(Click on the image to MONSTER size it, or click here to read from the beginning!)

Have you ever had something annoy you so much, you wanted to just whip out your alien sceptre and blast a retro, scifi beam through it's engine?
No?
Well, then you probably don't understand this panel.  Understand it or not, though, I felt sorry for that poor guy hanging out the window when I drew this.  I had some decisions to make about what kind of alien beams these guys had.  The obvious choice was the ever-popular disintegration ray, but that was a bit too cliche.  I do want to do somethings to surprise readers!  So, this is more like a force beam.  I imagine what is happening to the poor guys in that car is like they were driving along at a blistering 45 miles an hour when suddenly someone sticks a telephone pole through their car hood. 
Bam.  Poor guys.
The question now, is what Doc, Clay and Carol going to do to an alien that wants to eat them while wearing bulletproof armor and can project force-beams that destroy cars?  Yow.
If you're interested in buying this panel, it's for sale for $25.00 at my Comicartfans gallery!




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Artist - Your Exit Strategy

Last week's post on Art and the Day Job must have been pretty important to a lot of folk given the number of views and comments.  However, there is a bit of business that is at least as important as the Day Job discussion....

..how to manage your finances so you can survive WITHOUT the Day Job.

That Day Job keeps you fat and happy (you may not agree, but just follow along for a bit)...you get do do things like pay the rent, pay taxes and insurance, and eat.  You also do a lot of extra stuff.  You watch TV, go to movies, play videogames, drink soda, buy books, charge stuff to credit cards and take wonderful vacations.

NEWS FLASH - You can't afford those things if you quit your job to do art.  Not at the start, anyway.

So, how does one ever survive by selling art?  Well, you prepare now.  Remember that fable about the ants and the grasshopper?  The grasshopper was living it up all summer while the ants were working..storing away food.  Then, when the winter came, the grasshopper was hungry and the ants....well, they probably ate him.  I can't remember that part.  It's not important to my post, anyway.

What IS important is getting your financial house in shape so you won't starve when you unsuckle from the teat of the Day Job (ew).  (As an extra, if you keep the Day Job and follow these simple guidelines, you'll be rolling in so much clover that you'll finally be able to afford that life-sized tuan-tuan statue you've been dreaming about).

There are two steps standing between you and the freedom to draw every day:
  1. Minimize your spending, and
  2. Kill your debts.
(If you've ever heard of a guy named Dave Ramsey, those should sound familiar.)

First step - Minimizing Your Spending

Remember those "extras" that I said your Day Job was paying for?  Well, you've got to learn to do without them.  Take a second and get the heavy sighs and whining over with and we'll move on.

Ready?  Ok.

There's tons of stuff that you are paying for right now that you probably can do without.  In fact, you're going to HAVE to go without some of them if you want to spend your time doing art.  For instance, cable TV.  Do you have any idea of how expensive that is?  Stop paying for it.  You should be spending that time doing art.  If you want to watch a video, go to the library and rent one, or watch it over the Internet for free somehow.  Watch it at a friend's house.  Stop paying for it.

Grab a sheet of paper and list out just how much money is coming into your house and where it is going.  I'll bet there is fat that could be trimmed.  Do you really need that iPhone data package with unlimited texting?  You do?  Do you need it more than you need to be making a living from your art?

Watch out for what you are spending on eating out.  That's an incredible waste of money.  My wife and I stopped buying soda and limited our eating out to once a week and saved a ton.  I also lost 30 pounds because of trimming off the extra calories!  An added bonus!

Think like Scrooge McDuck.  What else are you paying for that you could actually do without most of the time?  Why are you buying books when there is a library nearby?  Why are you buying the latest video game when older ones are so much cheaper?  (Why the heck are you playing video games?  GO DO ART!)

Consider selling the car or the house.  Seriously.  If you're making payments on a new car, sell it for what you can get and buy something used with the cash.  Yes, it won't be as nice, but you won't be throwing your money at something that was worth half of what you paid the moment you drove it off the lot.

As for vacations, I agree that they are great...but there are ways to do them much cheaper.  My wife and I had our first vacation by sleeping at my parents and spending the day seeing all of the local stuff we always thought we'd want to go see, but never had the time.  Museums, antique shops, wineries, cemeteries (yep, I'm strange), and so on.

Finally, don't buy new stuff just because.  There's an old phrase that goes "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do Without".  If you can pull back your spending on stuff you don't really need, you have a much better chance of living your dream life.

Second step - Killing your Debt (or "Damn you, student loans!")

Take your hand and choke yourself with it.  That's your debts strangling your freedom.  You can stop choking yourself now.

Sometimes we make bad decisions and wind up in debt.  Sometimes, we make good decisions and wind up in debt.  Debt, however, is not our friend.  It stands between you and your art career.  Debt needs to die.
Grab another sheet of paper and write down how much of a balance you have on each loan you owe.  Write down the interest you're paying on each loan, and then the minimum payment for each.

There's the battleground for the war you need to fight.  Now you need a strategy for winning.  Here it is:
Pay your minimum payment on every loan EXCEPT for the smallest loan you have.  See that tiny guy?  Cowering in the corner?  You bet he should be afraid.  You're coming for him, baby.

Here's how it works.  With minimum payments on all of the other loans, you channel any extra cash you managed to scrounge with step one into paying that tiny guy off.  Before you know it, he'll be history and you'll be one less monthly payment.

WHEN THAT LOAN IS DEAD, rejoice and take ALL of the money you were paying on that first loan and drop it onto the next-smallest loan.  BAM!  He'll fold in no time.  Guess what you do next?  Right.  You keep working down the line.

My wife and I did this.  When we married, I brought nearly 36 grand of debt along.  I worked a low-paying, full time job, and my wife worked part time.  We reordered our spending (and thinking) and paid it off in 4 years.  My wife got another degree that put us nearly that much in debt, but with the job she got because of it, keeping to our KILL THE DEBT strategy, we'll have that paid off by this time next year (that means it took 2 years to pay off, friends).

Picture all of that money you've been spending on cable TV and loan payments.  What would life be like if you didn't have to pay for all that stuff?  Could you give making art for a living a try..maybe even get by on a part-time salary?  Even if you decided to keep the day job and make art on the side to sell...wouldn't that be a better place to be?

You bet it would.  Welcome to Freedomville.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Artist - Art and the Day Job

"Man, this day job is wearing me down..taking most of my day.  If only I could quit the thing, and THEN..."

Sound familiar?

One of the largest nemeses to the creative self is the Day Job, which is usually that thing that you can do well that brings a paycheck.  Unfortunately, it eats most of your day (and energy), and leaves you frequently day-dreaming about the time when you can make your Grand Escape.  (Notice my use of capital letters?)

While there are times when the Day Job deserves to be left (don't be miserable), remember that the time you spend on it allows you the creative freedom to do ANYTHING you want when you go home.  Yes, that may be only two hours, but...during those two hours, you are FREE.  You also don't have to worry about nasty people calling you on the phone wanting the rent, and can occasionally go watch the latest Marvel movie.

In fact, we are living in a Golden Age...because, back in the mid-1950's new government laws decreed that you couldn't work a person over 40 hours a week without offering them overtime pay.  Before then, EVERYONE worked at least 50 hours a week.  I've read books where people were waxing poetic about what sorts of wonderful things people might accomplish with their new found freedom.

Then came the Internet.  Alas.

So yes, you could be doing all kinds of things with those hours that you're chained to a cubicle...and it could be that you can escape to do what you love.....but don't forget that you CAN do something you love NOW.
The only question is how MUCH you want it.  Do you love it enough to stop watching TV every night?  Do you love it enough to stop playing video games every night?  Do you love it enough to abandon the interwebs?  Hmm?

If not, then may I suggest that you have EXACTLY the kind of life you really want.  You can think about all of the cool things you could have done, and lament on Twitter to your followers......

Or, you can shut up and do something.  Do anything, actually.

Because, here's the truth: it could be that you aren't working full time on your beloved art because you just aren't good enough yet.  You see, when the thought arises "Hey...I just can't seem to produce enough art to keep in stock...it's all selling so quickly.  I could probably even make a (tiny) living off of it..."  THEN, you should ditch the cubicle job.  Not before.
And how does one become good enough?

It's a simple formula: You work your ass off.
Here's some stuff you may not have known:
  • Bram Stoker (author of "Dracula, the Un-dead") never made a living off his writing.  He managed a theater and wrote on the side.
  • Stephen King worked in textile mills and did odd jobs (most pretty brutal) until his writing paid off.
  • Kurt Vonnegut was manager of the first SAAB dealership in the U.S.
  • T S Eliot worked at Lloyd's Bank on the Colonial and Foreign Accounts desk for eight years.
  • Douglas Adams was a security guard when "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" came to him.
  • William Faulkner was the postmaster at the university he dropped out from.

I know a guy who drives an hour one-way to a factory job AND operates a farm AND is pastor of a local church.  You know why he does that?  Because that's what he wants out of life.  That's what he decided is important to him.  I'm sure he's thought about farming and pastoring full time...and he might someday...but until he feels reasonably confident in doing so, HE'S ENJOYING THE STUFF HE WANTS TO DO NOW.  Are you?

Today's simple suggestion: Stop spending time hating your Day Job, and focus on doing as much art as you can.  Try to find a way to be happy about it.  If you get to do ANY art at all, it's a win.

And who knows?  Maybe someday......

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Look! Up in the sky!

(Click on the image to MONSTER size it, or click here to read from the beginning!)

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...
A flesh-eating metal man from another world?

As this July 4th rolls around, a lead-based negotiation takes place on a dark, country road near Stockton Station.  These particular officers of the law are about to learn why shooting first and asking questions...ever...doesn't work with aliens.
This was a tense panel for me to do.  I worked like the dickens trying to come up with a design for the aliens that I liked....lots and lots of sketches...until I finally settled on this.  We'll get a better look at him soon, but I hope you're wearing your seat belts, because this will be a rough meeting!
If you're interested in buying this panel, it's for sale for $25.00 at my Comicartfans gallery!


Me, I'm gonna go see Spider Man. :)

Happy Independence Day, America!
-Dave

Monday, July 2, 2012

Of all the Egotistical, Selfish...

(Click on the image to MONSTER size it, or click here to read from the beginning!)

I wouldn't want to be in Clay's position right now, would you? Give 'em hell, Carol!
I really enjoyed how those headlights in the background turned out....it's a shame that Carol's text bubbles covered most of it.  Ah well.
I'm going to try to put up the original art for each screen for sale at my gallery.  It's $25.00! If you want to peek at it, click the thumbnail below!
Hmm. Maybe I should do a Doc Monster 4th of July-themed piece?
Take care of yourselves!
-Dave