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Lackadaisy - Card Game

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 11, 2018, 3:59 PM

Some of you might remember me talking about the card game last year. My publisher only had a very small number of them in stock, but they're finally back. We made a lot more of them this time - and with new, custom dice too! 

If interested, here's where to order.

Card Game Spread 600 by tracyjb
Card Game Dice 600 by tracyjb



Lackadaisy on Patreon


I've recently left my job in the game industry so that I could focus more of my time and attention on Lackadaisy. Patreon is my weapon of choice in trying to see this to fruition.

If more Lackadaisy comic updates, illustrations, tutorials, mini-comics, books and other things interests you, please do check it out!

Support Lackadaisy on Patreon




Lackadaisy on Patreon

Journal Entry: Fri Aug 11, 2017, 6:35 PM
Uh...something's up with the Journal widget here. Apologies for the repeat journal entry. I tried to edit my old one and it disappeared entirely.


I've recently left my job in the game industry so that I could focus more of my time and attention on Lackadaisy.  Patreon is my weapon of choice in trying to see this to fruition.

If more Lackadaisy comic updates, illustrations, tutorials, mini-comics, books and other things interests you, please do check it out!

Support Lackadaisy on Patreon


Notes on Character Design


I received the question pictured below at my tumblr blog.  In case it's useful to anyone here, I decided to go ahead and use this otherwise dormant journal to share the article I put together in response.


character design question


Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don't - I have a lot to learn), I'm not sure I could communicate them effectively. Here are some thoughts an ideas that might help, though.


First, some general things...

- Relax.
Let some of that anxiety go. This isn't a hard science. There's no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn'ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.

- Be patient.
A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You'll throw a lot of stuff away, and you'll inevitably get frustrated at times, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.

cat sketches

- Learn to draw.
It might seem perfunctory to say, but I'm not sure everyone's on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn't a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It's much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you're really learning to draw, you're learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination. So, spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.

  • I don't think I've ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It'd be worth looking her up.

- Gather inspiration like a crazed magpie.
What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer.
It'll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it'll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse when you're conjuring characters.

- Imitate.
It's a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn't suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it's an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.

- Use references.
Don't leave it all up to guessing. Whether you're trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it's helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
horse reference horses

And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn't constitute cheating. There's no shame in reference material. There's at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.

shame


Concepts and Approach:

- Break it down
Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn't mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don't even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.

The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for the simple mobile game goblin character below, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.

Carl the goblin accountant cyber-monkey-death-bots


- Start with the general and work toward the specific.
Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it's like jotting down visual notes. When you're working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there's no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.

Above sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.



Design:

- Shapes are language.
They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.

Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.

Lucky Charms rejects


If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)

monster shapes


- Cohesion and Style.
As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this

Here's some of the simple shape repetition I've used for Lackadaisy characters.

And for potato shaped characters, use potato shaped shapes.

- Expressions.
Let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.

For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.

expressions


I discuss expression drawing in more detail here (click the image for the link):

expressions

- Poses.
Rendering poses is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.

Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.

line of action

- Additional resources.
Here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).

expressions


expressions


Lastly…

Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce ongoing contrition that'd make Arthur Dimmesdale wince. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.

When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.

Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.

Tiny Horror!

Journal Entry: Sat Sep 10, 2011, 2:57 PM
Halloween Contest Time

On the one hand, it's not exactly the contest I've been promising yet (urgh..sorry).  On the upside, it is a pumpkin carving contest!  
If you're looking for something fun to do this Halloween season that doesn't involve ritual bloodletting, this might be the thing for you.  We promise better prizes than most ancient, bloodthirsty deities, anyway.  
My publisher, 4DE, is hosting this one and, of course, the theme is 4DE's various comic titles.
Contest rules are here.


TinyHeroes Are Tiny!

TinyHeroes

TinyHeroes, has just been released in the App Store, for those who enjoy iPhone games...and murdering googly-eyed do-gooders.   Here's its direct iTunes link.

It might be Tiny, but it was a herculean effort for the development team, spanning many months, and we're proud to finally have it out there.  Candy, Satyr, Marie and I are among the art monkeys working on this one.


T-Shirts

Um, penultimately, I want to thank all of you who voted or left feedback on the t-shirt poll.  I'm sorry I didn't get  a chance to respond to many comments, but I assure you I read them all (so did Eric from 4DE) and took your thoughts into consideration.  We should have some t-shirts available soon.


Lastly: Horror Films!

Right about this time every year, when the corn is finally tall enough to hide in, when canned pumpkin pie goo goes on sale at the grocery store, and when the evenings start growing just a few degrees cooler, I'm struck with the need to be horrified.  Yes.  I need horror movies.  I need them right now.
The trouble is I'm running short on new material again.  Classics never lose their lustre, but one can only watch them so many times before they lose their effect (save that one inexplicable shot in The Shining in which Barf from Spaceballs appears to be having some sort of tête-à-crotch moment with a man in a tux. That has never lost its WHAT?).  Slasher films are, with few exceptions, filed under 'Unintentional Comedy' and not 'Horror' as far as I'm concerned, and, by and large, American remakes of Asian horror films are horrifying in all the wrong ways.  

So where's all the good stuff??  Any recommendations?

Looming Contest, Broken Cat

Journal Entry: Sun Aug 22, 2010, 1:22 AM
Lies!

Hey guys.  A few people have asked lately about what became of that art contest.  It wasn’t a tease.  It is going to happen. I did say it would take place this summer, though, and since that turned out to be an unequivocal lie, I figured I owed at bit of explanation.

Somewhere in-between comic conventions, a push to get a game ready for release at my day job, a particularly awful cancer my cat endured and then succumbed to, the ongoing saga of the neighbor’s cat needing rescuing from the neighbors (details below), a trite and tiresome bout with Stereotypical Moody Artist Syndrome that sometimes leaves me far less functional than I would like to be, and the recent passing of my grandfather – a short, feisty, French troublemaker and dear, generous man I will never stop missing – I lost a lot of the time and a lot of the volition needed to iron out contest details.  
I feel lately I’ve dropped the ball on Lackadaisy in a lot of ways, actually, and I’m full of a very achy regret about that.

With all due sheepishness, I’m sorry.  The next journal entry I make will contain the guidelines and other details, and the contest will run for no less than three months so as to make up for the lost summer and to allow those of you wishing to participate as much time as possible to prepare and submit artwork.
Thank you to those of you who’ve shown interest and haven’t given up on me yet.

Cat Drama

Augh.  There’s been a lot of cat drama lately.  In some karmic sense, I must’ve brought this on myself.  

Not long ago, my neighbor’s cat, Luca, came stumbling into my yard with a dislocated jaw, maxillary and zygomatic fractures, shattered teeth, ulcerated eye – in short, he looked like he’d been punched in the face with a car.  The raging infection around his mouth, eye and sinuses (complete with a side order of maggots) meant whatever trauma befell him must have happened days prior.  I guess the neighbors didn’t see fit to do anything about it.  This marks the second time I’ve had to rush him to the vet on an emergency basis due to their total lack of give-a-damn, actually.

I thought for sure I’d have to have him humanely euthanized, and for a while I was exceedingly frustrated and baffled by the whole situation - why do people adopt pets and then promptly set about neglecting them utterly?  How can anyone be so void of regard?  It seems downright pathological from where I’m standing.  They took the time to hang a collar and nametag on him, but their concern for him doesn’t seem to extend to providing him shelter in inclement weather, feeding him, or giving him the most basic medical care (easily prevented flea anemia was one of the things I had to have him treated for in the past).  I was infuriated and upset that I now had to incur the responsibility and heartache of putting an end to him...     

…but countless vet visits, two surgeries, a barrage of fierce antibiotics and a truckload of pain meds later, the old adage holds true – cats have nine lives or so.  Luca must have had some still in reserve.  I’ve since cat-napped him and sequestered him in my house so that I can give him his daily regimen of meds, and though he’s drooling like a St. Bernard, down to one eye and sporting a crooked nose, he’s been steadily improving.  I can’t help but marvel at his resilience when even the vets were taken aback by his condition at first.  It’s looking hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery save for the donning of a veteran boxer’s countenance.

Watching him progress from a disoriented, staggering sack of infection to a rumbling purr-baby sprawled across the couch like he owns the place has been an uplifting and inspiring little end note to an otherwise terrible summer.  It was expensive, it was stressful, but he’s so worth it.  I wish everyone recognized that about the animals they keep.

Maybe I’ll post some photos of him here later once he’s looking a bit more presentable.

Do any of you guys have rescued animal stories to share?

No-Longer Hypothetical Art Contest

Journal Entry: Sun Apr 11, 2010, 4:26 PM
Updates:

Thanks everyone who noted their interest in the proposed contest.  Based on the response, the publisher and I decided we're definitely going to move ahead with this and hold the contest over the summer months.
I'll post all the details about subject matter, submission policy, judging criteria, prizes, start and end dates here soon.

Lackadaisy in PREVIEWS

Lackadaisy is in Diamond's April issue of the PREVIEWS catalog (page 288 I think), which definitely calls for a moonshine toast.  It took about a year's worth of tenacity and finagling from the publisher to work this out.  It was all the more rewarding to see that Volume 1 received a staff pick too.

What this means is that, if you're not keen on ordering the book in the online store, you can now order the book through major bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes and Nobles, or through almost any North American comic shop.  In fact, if you happen to feel like doing so, or even just nudging your favorite retailer to stock it, it'd be much appreciated.

In order to keep Lackadaisy-type stuff appearing in future catalogs, it has to make a decent showing.  Otherwise it'll get kicked to the curb and I'll have to resort to living in the woods in a shelter constructed of twigs, spit and unsold copies of the book where, without broadband internet access,  I will lose my marbles and attempt to adapt Thoreau's Walden into a screenplay with Michael Bay in mind as director-producer.*

*may not actually occur




Prelude to an Art Book Contest

My publisher and I have been discussing the possibility of releasing a Lackadaisy art book for 2011 to either coincide with or precede Volume 2 of the comic.  I would love to be able to include 3 to 5 pieces of guest artwork in the book.  Since I can’t figure a way to design a Ponzi scheme around this premise, the next best thing, it seems, will be to wrangle some art by way of art contest.  

Winning pieces of art would be featured in the book, of course, and prizes would likely include a copy of the art book itself, a copy of Lackadaisy Volume 1 containing a custom drawing from me, various other Lackadaisy baubles courtesy of my publisher, and something like a Wacom Intuos4 tablet for first prize.

Before I go ahead and start seriously planning for such a thing, though, I figured it’d be pragmatic to ask – would anyone be interested in participating?

Lackadaisy Group

There now exists a Lackadaisy Group, with thanks to :iconnerfiti: for making it so.
As it has gradually been populated with related art, I’ve realized there’s a lot of it ‘round these parts I wasn’t previously aware of.  I’m pretty overwhelmed by it actually, and I say so with gratitude.  I’m only sorry I haven’t yet commented on so many of these pieces.  I owe a lot of artists and writers my thanks and compliments.

If you’d like to see the group gallery, join the group, or submit some art, you can find it here:
:iconlackadaisycats:


2010 Convention Schedule

Wondercon  - San Francisco, April 2-4th, 4th Dimension Entertainment booth

Natsucon – St. Louis, July 16-18th, Special-ish Guest and vendor

Comic-Con - San Diego, July 22nd – 25th, 4th Dimension Entertainment booth

So Long, Stripy Little Tramp

Journal Entry: Sun Aug 30, 2009, 3:25 PM
Rocky

Well, the  little convention tour is over for this year.  Shows have been invariably stressful and exhausting, but always rewarding.  For the latter, I owe many, many thanks to those who stopped by the booth for a book, a sketch, or a hello.

Still, while it has all been quite the adventure, my productivity has really suffered, and the resulting frustration, disappointment and self-reproach has a way of culminating into a very disagreeable bundle of creative angst – the sort that tends to seat itself in the chest with the implacable cold weight of a canon ball.  Just as I was looking forward to alleviating that uncomfortable sensation by turning some undistracted attention back to comic production, something else came along that rather thoroughly sapped all the wind out of my sails – Rocky died.

He was creeping up on nineteen years and "he lived a good long time" seems to have been adopted by the family as the official tagline.  Even if that genre of self-comforting platitude is true, the subtext is generally that they've stuck around long enough to decimate you upon their departure the way any family member would…and for a long time after, leave you primed for outbursts of blubbering over every accidental glimpse of a photo, lump of shed fur on the carpet, or feather-toy couched in the corner and emanating pathos the likes of Tiny Tim's abandoned crutch.

So, I apologize for the inactivity here.  My inclination toward publicly demonstrating my bad taste in humor and drawing criminally stupid pictures in sequence went on hiatus.  
As it happens, reams of sentimental drivel come more naturally at times like these.  I'm sure some of you can relate.  For others, I imagine it comes across as a little pathological...so I beg pardon for these following reams of sentimental drivel.

Rocky


Early on we had outfitted Rocky with collar bells, ensuring I would ever after associate their sound with him.  Initially, this was a well-meaning attempt to warn cute backyard wildlife of the oncoming likelihood of dismemberment.  In practice, however, the bells failed to create any real handicap for his sport, and ultimately only provided the ironically cheerful, tinkling death knell for many a hapless rabbit and field mouse.
It was slaughter in the warmer months.  Tributes to the gods for the bountifulness of the season's suburban mammalia came  in the form of blood offerings tastefully arranged on our doorstep – disembodied heads and hearts and sundry mystery organs garnished with sinew and little rivulets of blood.  One had to watch where one stepped in barefoot summers as the stoop was something of a miniature ode to an Aztec temple pyramid.
But he was forgiven all this.  It may have had something to do with the charming alacrity inherent in a pair of half-crossed blue eyes, or the way his over-sized canines poked through the corners of that universal feline smile for an effect more comical than vampiric.  In spite of the mangled quarry, he seemed to exist in dopey ignorance of his predator's conformation.

Rocky


Among people, he was less predator than adept lap cat - he never scratched, never bit, and sometimes drooled on you a little.  That's was an understandable side effect of becoming voluntarily invertebrate, though.  It made him a capital foot warmer.   And, if he wasn't busy achieving maximum sprawl, or outdoors shamelessly soliciting the attention of some unknown passerby (he wasn't above encouraging even the most perfect stranger to drape him around their shoulders like a mink), he was probably indoors catching and fetching crinkled paper for ovations.  He had a performer's streak, and a flair for melodrama besides.
In fact, the thespian emerged at the end of the love affair (or the arrangement allotting for regular cuddling and grooming) between him and Tonya, the mercurial white cat.  She inexplicably withdrew her affections years ago - some say she lost her mind like Ophelia, others attest she had just always been a spaz - but he never relented trying to sidle up next to her as before. Following each of her temperamental rebuffs, he'd pace about the dark basement like a theatrical ghost, moaning and howling pitifully, jingle bells substituting for the traditional chains.
He was more geared toward comedy, though.  Some of his routines involved breaking and entering into the neighbors' house for surprise visits I'm sure they never truly appreciated, dragging a bag of hotdog buns home which he had ostensibly pilfered from some other neighbor's picnic, or peeling a half-frozen crow carcass twice his size off the ground and trotting it about with ghoulish glee.  In keeping with the theatrical and his uncanny talent for self-injury, there were, of course, many engagements with the Elizabethan collar too.

Rocky


My deepest attachment came, I think, in the midst of those most awkward years of early adolescence.  Trudging out on cold, queasy mornings to be picked up by the humiliation-chariot and taken to the ruthless hellscape of teenage realpolitik (uh, school, that is), he'd follow me to the bus stop – trailing behind in cool emulation of man's-best-friend clichés and carrying on in squawking conversation while I flailed my arms in attempts to shoo him back home.  At those moments he was about the only thing on the planet that could make me crack a smile.  Moreover, he gave me a place for my mind to wander away to during the interminable school days, something that manifested as cartoonized pictures of him to drawn throughout my class notes.  He'd made himself the bright spot in my little lonely-kid's world.  

Now, it's all too easy to dwell on the absence of those shameless performances, his one-sided conversations, his games of fetch and - on evenings marked by inordinate worry because he had failed to return home before dark – that  reassuring jingle-bell prelude to his presence breaking through the steady chur of the crickets.
I do still have many pictures left to draw, though; a happy residue from years when I could take all of those other things for granted.  All told, there isn't much more one could ask for from a cat.
(…aside from those little forget-me-not piles of gore they like to leave on the doorstep.)

Anyway, I'm not used to being quite so emotional, but now that I've cried all over my sandwich, it's probably time to stop rambling and move along to other things.


Motes of Potential Interest

I'm working on a long-overdue revamp of the character bio page on the Lackadaisy web site.  A lot of art is involved and I expect it to take a little while longer, but I've posted a small preview for the time being.  Just click the thumbnail.

St. Louis Hot Jazz


I've also just opened a Twitter account here, my justification being that I'll use it to announce  large and small site updates as they come, since they tend to be hopelessly erratic.  Outside of that context, I'm not sure how much I'll use it yet, but as a few people poked me and suggested it, I'm willing to give it a try.


Lackadaisy Volume 1

Lackadaisy Volume 1 Books are available for order here  And as a special courtesy, they're even in English this time.

Convention Season

Journal Entry: Sat Jul 18, 2009, 4:15 PM
At Comic-Con with Bells On

...though perhaps wearing clothes would be more conventional.  (Yeah...I know you see what I did there.  Rest assured, I'm sufficiently ashamed of myself.)
Anyway, I'm just throwing it out there for anyone who might like to stop by that I'll be at San Diego Comic-Con July 23nd to the 26th at the 4th Dimension Entertainment booth in the small press secion.  Books, posters, pins and a limited number of sketches will be available.

Sculptor Damon Bard will be gracing the booth with his presence as well.  There are just too many good things to say about his work, so rather than leave a heap of verbiage and glee here in praise, I'll just suggest that seeing it is very worthwhile.

Later this summer, I'm also planning to be at Wizard World Chicago, once again affixed to the 4th Dimension booth and most probably wearing clothes.  


Lackadaisy Volume 1

Lackadaisy Volume 1 Books are available for order here  And as a special courtesy, they're even in English this time.  

Club-shaped pins are new on the menu too, in case you're ever in the neighborhood and care to slip into a certain St. Louis speakeasy to enjoy some of Captain Kehoe's fabulous Mississippi embalming fluid hooch.
They're approximately the exact size of the image shown here:
Your ticket to Skeevytown

You heard me.   I said approximately exactly.


Art Consigliere?

Lately, I've amassed a small collection of notes and emails requesting advice or "tips" about how to be an artist, how to be a professional artist, or about arting in general.  I apologize for not responding to all of these messages.  I really don't know how, to be perfectly frank.  Answering more specific questions is much easier.  When it comes to the broader scope, not only do I feel  unqualified to offer counsel, but vague questions yield vague answers, and those scarcely seem useful.   Anything I try to write in response reads like pablum fit for haiku.

bleed on blank canvas
fever dreams, shabby wages
an artist is you

Sensing that I'm being unintentionally rude by dodging the questions, though, I've scrounged around the general-knowledge center of my brain for something worthwhile to say.  So, here are a few scraps for the Gallery of Oblique Advice for Artists:

  • Do art.  Do it all the time.  If you need someone to tell you that - if you're not already spending almost every free waking hour drawing, painting, 3D modeling, or whatever your vice - you probably ought not consider it as a future career.

  • Develop a raging inferiority complex.  It'll keep you working hard, because you'll never fall victim to believing you're good enough.

  • Accept honest feedback.  Actively seek it out, in fact.  If you're switching on the 'discourage criticism' option on your deviations and you wish to be something more than a hobbyist, you're doing it wrong.

  • Learn to accept said feedback with some measure of grace.  That's often difficult, I know, but as a professional, few people will empathize with how personally you take your art.  You will be very exposed to criticism, and it will not behoove you to react like a hypersensitive ninny.  

  • Learn the fundamentals - light and shadow, color theory, composition, construction method drawing, figure drawing, perspective drawing -  either in school or of your own accord.  It'll apply to just about anything you do with art.  Even if you're a Dadaist, you have to learn it so that you can properly ridicule it.

  • Don't attend a technical school to learn art.  That sounds like a no-brainer, but these types of schools are plastering ads all over television, professing to make students ready for game industry positions.  Lies!

  • Try not to apply for a job with a portfolio full of nothing but fan art, for chrissake.

  • Don't forget to work on your artist image.  You could always start by wearing vintage clothing and drinking absinthe made by obscure independent brewers.  And remember, "I'm an artist" is a legitimate response to all sorts of questions about your inappropriate social behavior and terrible fashion sense.

  • Quest for a deeper meaning to imbue in your art.  Take up your artists' tools; embark on your spiritual journey of self-discovery; try not to get shivved by a hobo on the way.
  

Well, there you have it, artlings.  Now, before you know it, you'll be rolling in filthy lucre!*   
(* Lucre not actually available.  But feel free to have a roll in the filth anyway, since you're an artist and you can get away with that sort of behavior.  Just as long as you enjoy yourself.)


Feature Artists
:iconcandy-janney: :iconmikedoscher: :iconrynozebz:
Some very talented friends.

Referenced some css code from :iconkuschelirmel-stock: 's lovely layouts in trying to piece this new journal look together, and so credit is due.

Raisin-free Update

Sun Nov 23, 2008, 12:24 AM
Oh, get ready!  It's another exciting installment of the Journal that Seldom Updates, barreling toward you with the mad enthusiasm of a rheumatic octogenarian, and promising edge-of-your-seat thrills the likes of which a nice bread pudding has to offer.  (No raisins.  They ruin everything.)

Yeah.  Sorry for the reticence. I've recently returned from a little Lackadaisy book tour in Italy, though, so now I've got something to yammer about.

In concordance with the release of the Lackadaisy Volume 1 book in Italy, ReNoir very generously invited me out to join them for this year's Lucca Comics and Games festival.
Lackadaisy Italiano
The book, by the way, can be found in certain Italian bookstores and comic shops, but if anyone interested has been unable to locate it, or if anyone outside of Italy would like a copy, it can also be ordered online from the distributor (search Lackadaisy), and should also be available for order soon directly from ReNoir's web site.

Lucca - The crowd at the ReNoir booth
Lucca was, of course, the main event.  This is the first comic convention I've been to, in fact, and it left quite an impression on me.  The crowds of comics fans and cosplayers all gathered within the imposing walls of this little medieval city was quite a spectacle to behold – poetic even in its own funny way.
Anxieties were running high, and I was a bit overwhelmed by sketch requests, but the experience was undeniably rewarding and that, happily, overshadowed my preoccupation with my nerves and shaking hands.  It's difficult to express, really, how gratifying it was meeting people who have been enjoying the comic online - a sincere thank you to all of those who stopped by the booth.

Lackadaisy window display
I had a couple of book signings in Milan and Rome and a radio interview with Italy's public broadcaster while there as well.  The above photo is a Lackadaisy window display at a Feltrinelli bookstore in Rome – something I was rather surprised and thrilled to see.  Photograph courtesy Michele Foschini…which brings me to the next thing.

Michele (sort of)
Michele - I Lackadaisy-ed him as a sort of thank you, in lieu of a convention sketch.  Michele not only did the translation for the Italian language book, but also acted as consummate tour guide, simultaneous translator, and ambassador of fine Italian dining.  We ate at some really wonderful restaurants and saw some marvelous sites thanks to him.  

By "we" I mean Amy, Kazu, and I.
For the entirety of my trip, I had the great pleasure of meeting and hanging around with Amy and Kazu Kibuishi – some of the most talented, driven, and successful comic artists around, and just about the nicest pair of people one could hope to meet.  I came back a little exhausted from all of the commotion and travel, but feeling quite inspired regardless.

A view of Lucca from inside one of its medieval towers

As it happens, Italian coffee was a most effective jetlag remedy.  Too much, and the amateur consumer begins to feel a bit like a humming bird with a meth buzz.  Unfortunately, in returning to the States, no amount of espresso or caramel macchiato has been efficacious enough to return my sleep schedule to normal.  On the upside, my sleep schedule was entirely abnormal to begin with, so suddenly I find myself bizarrely diurnal.  Anyway, I digress.  Italy was fantastic.

For anyone interested, feel free to check out my flickr album of photos from the tour. (Don't worry.  There aren't any raisins.)

Likewise, Michele has an album of Lucca photos available for public view here.

For those who've been asking me about the availability of English language Lackadaisy books – I'm expecting them to be out in early 2009.  I'll post more about that here as details are forthcoming.

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Lackadaisy









  • Listening to: Cake
  • Reading: The Crack-up, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Watching: Things David Lynch made

Digital Kvetching

Tue Mar 25, 2008, 2:11 AM
I should have posted these more immediately…well, arguably, I should have updated my journal, oh, say, a year ago.  Rather than introduce my cavalcade of excuses for the prolonged silence, though, I’ll just note that I’m extremely honored that Lackadaisy has received a number of Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards this year.

Outstanding Artist

Outstanding Character Rendering

Outstanding Black and White Art

Outstanding Web Site Design

A notable portion of the credit for the web site award is owing to :iconthurinus:.  It's his Tomekeeper web comic manager that keeps the Lackadaisy web site functioning smoothly and his handiwork that keeps the Lackadaisy forums doing likewise.  Thank you, Jay.

I’ve also been very surprised and delighted to find that Lackadaisy’s received a nomination for an Ursa Major Award this year.

--------------------------------

In addition, it’s been featured in a recent issue of Top Girl magazine, which was quite exciting, if not a little surreal…surreal and Italian.  The first image is the magazine cover, the second is the actual article (posted with permission).

Top Girl cover
Top Girl cover

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Lastly, as I've had a number of requests and delivered a number of promises for a painting tutorial, I've assembled one that, although brief and characteristically obnoxious, will hopefully suffice until time stops slipping so maddeningly through my fingers...at which point I’ll come up with something more in-depth and perhaps even marginally informative.  
Digital Kvetching

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Lackadaisy









  • Listening to: Gogol Bordello
  • Watching: Chinatown

Geometric Cheeses

Mon Feb 26, 2007, 1:06 AM
  • Listening to: The Beatles and The Kinks
  • Reading: An Unquiet Mind - Kay Jamison
  • Watching: Scrubs
Winter has been rather quiet, but it has seen some dustbunny-like accumulation of minor motes of interest beneath a sofa of...um, that metaphor really isn't working.  Let me try again.  Cheese cubes – yes – the winter has catered forth a moderately palatable cheese salmagundi of news items.  Sample my assortment of geometric cheeses, won't you?


1.  Lackadaisy has won some Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards in the categories of Outstanding Newcomer, Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Character Rendering, and Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic:

Outstanding Newcomer

Outstanding Artist

Outstanding Character Rendering

Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic

…about which I'm exceedingly honored and elated, but that probably goes without saying.
A very sincere thanks to those who nominated or voted for Lackadaisy.  Drawing cats clad in waistcoats and fedoras being destructive and sarcastic is supremely self-indulgent on one level, but it's also a tremendous amount of work – certainly more than I was prepared for at the onset.  Acknowledgement can do a lot to cheer your sleep deprived existence and to remind you it's truly worth the effort.  Thank you to those of you here for your encouragement and support as well.

There are some immensely talented individuals among the nominees for this year's WCCA's…do check them out!



2.  Speaking of the comic, there is now a Lackadaisy RSS Feed courtesy of :iconthurinus:



3. I attended James Randi's "The Amazing Meeting" in Las Vegas this January.  Amazing was definitely not a misnomer.  I got the opportunity to meet a number of admirable individuals who simultaneously inhabit the intellectual and creative arenas, to eat dinner with some of them and to sit in on Q&A panels with others. Among the accomplished attendants were Penn and Teller (carrying on in Houdini's tradition of both entertaining and fraud-debunking), Christopher Hitchens (Vanity Fair journalist and political pundit), Scott Dikkers of The Onion, John Rennie  of Scientific American, Comedienne Julia Sweeny, Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Mythbuster Adam Savage (kind enough to chat and pose for a photo) and, of course, The Amazing Randi who makes it his earnest business to educate the people wherever predator-charlatans prowl.

Overall, it was a reassuring experience.  There may be John Edwards Sylvia Brownes lurking out there, but there are also a lot of people willing to scrutinize and ferret out destructive nonsense charading as truth.
Robert Lancaster for one.



4.  In other news, I'm a girl.  This may not qualify as a revelation around here, but certain niches of the internets seem to have me confused for "that guy who draws Lackadaisy."

Granted, as something of a non-traditionalist, it may not be immediately obvious to the internets that I am a girl.  It's possible I'm congenitally lacking a segment of the girly-girl stereotype genome – some biochemical data strands that would otherwise have me shopping compulsively for shoes, ogling purses, liking pink, caring about what my cell phone ringtone says about me as a person, and utilizing daily minutiae as an excuse to call people on it in chronic mismanagement of my monthly allotment of free minutes.  I never developed those behaviors.  Perhaps I've just been too preoccupied shunning babies.  It's a lot of work shunning babies because those things are everywhere.  Every time I find myself leaping into sewer drains and crawling into ventilation shafts to avoid them, I have to wonder; why are tiny, screaming ham-shaped people with stubby, uncontrollable appendages and haphazard bodily functions so popular anyway?  Regardless, I will argue that simply lacking the capacity to wrap my head around this peculiar social trend doesn't make me a non-girl.
Allow me to illustrate.  Poorly.
Hambaby
Well, there you have it: girl.  


5.  Lastly, pigmath was invented.  It makes life with numbers much easier, so I think it's marketable.
Are you an artist?  Do you crazy hate logic and numbers?  Well, boy-howdy, have I've got a new kind of math for you!  It's refreshing, it's abstract, it's made entirely of whimsy and bacon – it's pigmath!

*Pigmath is at least 100% the fault of :iconjackalsgrin:  
I'm willing to forgive the transgression, though, because 100% = bacon, two pancakes and what appear to be some biscuits = breakfast = awesome.  
….And that better be right because I felt adventurous and used pigmath instead of regular math to calculate my tax returns this year.

**Addendum to pigmath: As it turns out, the IRS doesn't think pigmath is funny.

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Lackadaisy



Realizing the ordering of comics in my gallery is a bit confusing, here’s a listing of Lackadaisy comic pages in proper chronological order to date. These can also be viewed in orderly fashion at the Lackadaisy web site: www.lackadaisycats.com
















Extras/development and preview strips:










Fabrefaction in Action

Sat Oct 28, 2006, 8:29 PM
  • Listening to: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Save My Soul
  • Reading: My Tank Is Fight! - Zack Parsons
Well it's been a while since I've updated my journal, but this seems like a valid excuse to do so:

Certain individuals indicated they had an interest in seeing how I go about putting a Lackadaisy comic together, so I've assembled this little synopsis. (In an effort to maintain an air of family-friendly disingenuousness, I've opted to leave out the portions involving inspirational nude car chases and blood sacrifices made to Huitzilopochtli).

So here I present How A Comic is Made: The Boring Version or, if you like:
Tracy's Misguided and Somewhat Truncated Adventures in the Land of Sequential Art.

Step 1. Thumbnails and Script
To start with, I flesh out a script and thumbnail sized layout for the scenario the comic will cover. Because the script is so reliant on the visuals and vice versa, I work on both simultaneously. These typically undergo at least two or three revisions, accounting for highly refined, expertly wrought dialogue the likes of, "AUGH!" and "AAAAAAAUUUGGHH!"

AAAUUGH!


Step 2. Layout and Rough Pencils
On a piece of 14x17" smooth Bristol board, I begin blocking out frames with a straightedge based on the thumbnail layout. To start with, I use light pencil lines so that I can easily erase and rearrange things if necessary.
Layout
Next, I begin roughing in the content of each frame.
I've been asked a few times whether or not I draw all of the frames that make up a comic on one page - for the most part I do. When everything is in one place, it's easier to think of it as a cohesive piece rather than a series of independent panels. This helps me maintain some semblance of continuity from one frame to the next…sort of.
Rough sketching

Step 3. Penciling, Caffeine, and More Penciling
Many, many hours, cups of tea and mugs of coffee later, I've finished penciling. Copy paper is my usual M.O. for any extra frames that don't fit unobtrusively with the main body of the comic on the Bristol board. Copy paper is pretty flimsy compared to Bristol, but I like the smooth surface for pencil drawing.

Layout


Step 4. Agonized Self-scrutiny
As anyone dwelling in the artist's milieu could tell you, this is a vital and, one might say, defining characteristic of the artistic process. There are a number of methods to be utilized here: long brooding walks in the rain, pensive posturing atop cemetery monuments, LiveJournal updates, or simply spending some time crumpled in a heap, face down on the floor. "I'm a creative cipher - a husk empty of meaningful expression!" and "What am I doing? I'm such a hack!" are some of the more popular platitudes for this state of mind.
Such a hack.

Step 5. Scanning, Bitmap Layout and Cleanup
Following the requisite deluge of histrionics and perhaps a brief affliction of ennui, it's time to visit the flatbed scanner. The unfortunate difficulty with working on large pieces of paper is that affordable scanners aren't very accommodating of such outrageous caprice. This means scanning segments, and then piecing them back together in their proper order in Photoshop. I break the frames apart into separate layers so that I can more easily arrange them. I also use this step to do any cleanup work I either couldn't or didn't do with an eraser.

Scans


Step 6. Dialogue
Using a font I created (with FontCreator 5), I begin filling in the dialogue I had worked out in the script. Despite previous revisions, the dialogue tends to undergo another round of alteration at this point to make sure it's as well-suited to the characters and situation as possible.

It's a talkie!

I use a separate layer to place speech bubbles beneath the text.

Speech bubbles


Step 7. Shadows
To emphasize shaded areas I didn't pay enough attention to with my pencil and to add some extra contrast or depth where needed, I paint in shadows on top of the layer containing the original penciling with a low opacity, hard-round brush. I work in grayscale only at this stage. If the shadow layer begins to obfuscate the penciling, I'll add a copy of the pencil layer (set to 'multiply' and turned down to about 30% opacity) on top of the shadows to reinforce any lost linework.

Shadows


Step 8. Final
The last step (and just about the only one that doesn't require hours of work) is the minor color balance adjustment I use on the bitmap to create the overall sepia tone.
Lackadaisy Scathefire by tracyjb

Fini!

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Lackadaisy



Realizing the ordering of comics in my gallery is a bit confusing, here’s a listing of Lackadaisy comic pages in proper chronological order to date. These can also be viewed in orderly fashion at the Lackadaisy web site: www.lackadaisycats.com
















Extras/development and preview strips:








Horror Bug

Tue Aug 15, 2006, 12:38 AM
UPDATE:  Wow - thanks, guys, for all the recommendations!  I now have a sizeable list of films to go rent.  If I find any gems, I'll be sure to let you fellow horror enthusiasts know about it.

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And now, a HORROR STORY.  A horror vignette.  An unsettling anecdote.  A tale of mild inconvenience.  An old-fashioned jaunty yarn told to the tune of Whiskey in The Jar.  
Okay, a STUPID STORY.

I visited a friend the other night and left my car parked with the convertible top down.  When I returned to my vehicle, lo, a villain awaited, sitting in the driver's seat, eyeing me from the headrest and spelling out the words 'come a little closer' in the air with lazily waving appendages.  There was a calm, confident menace about this interloper, the conformation of whom spoke of a spindly coil threatening violent release just beneath a cool James Dean countenance…only it wasn't so much James Dean as it was a stickbug.
Oh, God.
Now, I'm not one for physical theatrics; those friends of mine who haven't yet wandered away out of boredom could tell you I'm about as likely to dive into hysterics as a sack full of soggy Wonder Bread is likely to spontaneously combust.  Naturally, it follows that most forms of insect life don't unnerve me.  Peckish felines munching cricket crunchies?  Used to it.  Wolf spiders understandably mistaken for eight-legged squirrels?  Meh.  Moth swimming in my Sunny Delight?  Bugger.  But a stickbug?  You freakishly elongated specimen of evolutionary genius!  O, horrid creeping skeletal monstrosity!  You are a thorn in my ribs to vex the very beating of my heeeaaaarrrt! I flailed.
A long time ago, there was an incident, you see.  A stickbug incident.
~Hooorrrrrdldldlh~ (According to "The Second Edition Horace Grumbleshanks Conspectus on Appropriate Flashback Noises" this is a legitimate arrangement of letters for signifying flashbacks.)  
As a kid, I went camping and hiking in the Adirondacks where I spent the nights in a lean-to.  One morning I awoke with one of these twig-shaped archfiends lounging like a jacuzzi bum in my mouth.  As I recall, my reaction was somewhat lacking in grace and featured a spectacularly high speed, panicky version of the Get It Off Me dance.  The trauma.  Somehow, I picked up the pieces and carried on with childhood, but never was I to be the same brash, non-stickbug-phobic youth I had once been.
~Hooorrrrrdldldlh~
There I stood with my ancient enemy before me, poised on a multitude of spindly limbs, ready at any moment to spring into crazed, predatory…bug-like ambling.  Fortunately at that instant, adrenaline overrode my senses, some sort of primal survival mechanism kicked in and I ran around the opposite side of the car, scrambled over the side, reached to the passenger seat floor, brandished Volume 9 of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collection, took aim, and hurled it at the puny cranium of my foe.  Both stickbug and box-set hurtled through the air and crashed into the asphalt.  Win!  The bug limped away in silent humiliation and I retrieved my DVDs, pausing to reflect on the poignancy of this episode in my life.  Somehow I always knew Mike and The Bots would save me…or spare me from an uncomfortable ride home with a bug in the car.

Why am I typing this?

Oh, right.  While stickbugs scare me, curiously, horror films have a somewhat disappointing track record in this arena.  In past years, I've been on a mission – nay, a crusade – to find films that are actually frightening.  Zero success.  
What I really want is the sort of –frightening- that follows me home after the movie and makes me sprint for the light switch and wonder what's watching through the grating of the old iron heating vents (aside from Bug-Eyed Larry, the vagrant-voyeur) – something to send me the most wonderful psycho-dramas in my sleep.  What I seem to get instead is director after director throwing a cat at the protagonist whenever the film score grows suspiciously quiet as she's searching for that clue to just-what's-going-on-around-here-anyway.  The teenie-boppers in the audience jump and shriek while the rest of us moan.  Lame.

Case in point: "Pulse"

Ingredients:
1 Sarah-Michelle Gellar look-alike to play the blandly pretty bland girl in distress
1 sassy over-sexed best friend stereotype
1 boyfriend who is as bland as the protagonist but who we will be told is misunderstood
1 alternate love interest whose only discernable trait is 'likes the bland girl.'
1-3 boyfriend friends, second tier affable goofs primed for slaughter
1 eccentric I-told-you-so-hobo to offer up some half-crazed, but apt warnings of impending doooooom
1½ lbs callow internet emo ghosts employing interpretive dance techniques to exfoliate your soul…which is apparently stored in your face.

Blend together into a grungy, industrial, post-apocalyptic wasteland of a city and pour into a pan shaped approximately like the Japanese version of the same movie.  Bake in the dismal blue-gray color palette utilized by The Ring and every horror film thereafter.  Frost liberally with pre-fab dialogue like, "Don't you get it?" and a few nonsensical lines like "We discovered frequencies we never knew existed!"
Serve chilled on a platter of convoluted, ill-explained government or corporate shenanigans and a trite cautionary undertone about the techno-damage done to our society by the unbridled use of winky-face smilies and webcams.
Oh yes, and allow people who have seemingly never actually seen the internet before design all of the faux browser interfaces.

If I didn't know better I'd swear writer Wes Craven was actually a computer himself, the old-fashioned kind that reads binary off paper feeds.  Maybe an ungainly, rattling metal box in the corner of some vast storehouse somewhere…in Hollywood. Random script generator.

Granted, "Pulse" is something of a worst case scenario – a culmination of every dislikable horror film trend from the past five years or so.  And I admit to being a bit of a cinema snob, but I went in with what I thought were realistic expectations.  Still, there were no chills to be had.  I left instead with amplified cynicism running up and down my spine.  I should have just stayed home to bash myself in the face with a shovel for the 87 minute duration, but I suppose hindsight is always 20/20 like that.

Soooo….know any good horror flicks?

Tax return X-treme!
  • Listening to: O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack
  • Reading: Carl Sagan - Demon Haunted World
  • Watching: Alfred Hitchcock Collection

Brain Hoodlums

Fri Jul 28, 2006, 10:48 AM
Well, the comic has officially commenced.  It's a good feeling.  
www.lackadaisycats.com

Somehow it seems like I've been working on it much longer than I actually have.  That may be at least partly owing to the torrid, happy sacrifice of every spare moment I had (and even some that I didn't) to it these past few months.  It has been something like gleefully shoveling bunnies into the demanding maw of a serpent who, in-between flexes of pulverizing masseter, would seductively remind me that I can keep at it and simply mow the lawn -next- weekend instead.  After all, the neighbors aren't all that incensed by the primeval forest your yard has come to resemble.  If they knock on the door, don a beret, take up the bongo drums and explain in syncopated rhythm that entropy is beautiful.  And maybe invite them over for a safari some time.
(I'm going to be ticketed by the metaphor police.)
So, I've provided ample neglect to the various facets of my life not related to drawing ridiculous comics.  Still, I think the sensation that the project is older than it actually is has more to do with the familiarity I feel with the characters.  It's not been that long since their inceptions on paper in most cases, but I think perhaps they've been loitering on some street corner in my brain for much longer than that…waiting for some inner sanctum patroller to happen by, unprepared for the trouncing.  Those brain-hoodlums.

In truth, a couple of them have been around since I was but a wee artist struggling to survive the unforgiving social climes of middle school.  It's good to reacquaint myself with those small concoctions, the imaginary life-and-times of which helped me across a much too real juvenile hell-scape.  Actually, in some completely nonsensical way, I feel like I owe them the attention.
(Hmm.  I'm starting to sound like a case study in trauma-induced defense mechanisms.  I'm dramatizing a bit.  It wasn't that bad.  Childhood was largely idyllic, in fact.  Just not the parts where I had to go to school.)
Anyway, maybe some time when I'm feeling inclined to embarrass myself beyond the status quo, I'll post some of those more primitive renderings of the characters.  I visited my childhood home a few weeks ago, found a few of them in a musty, dusty box full of old sketchbooks in the basement and had a good laugh.  Rocky - the real cat - was there watching and wearing his goofy vampire smile; his fangs hanging smugly out the sides of his mouth as if to say, 'yeah, I probably peed on that box.'

He used to follow me like a dog to the bus stop every morning. I love him.

Well, I'm about to go running off to Texas for a business trip, so I'll leave on this bit of Ivy and Freckle randomness.

They're probably plotting your demise.
  • Listening to: Patrick and Eugene - The Birds and The Bees
  • Reading: Carl Sagan - Demon Haunted World (thanks Mike)
  • Watching: Clerks 2

Sepia Magic

Fri Jun 23, 2006, 2:20 AM
So.  I've been asked a torrent of questions about my pencil lately.  In fact, I think it gets more attention than I do.  Admittedly, this has led to a certain degree of, well…resentment for my pencil.
I feel it's somewhat warranted, honestly, but in an effort to resolve this issue and assuage a growing bit of mutual animosity which could serve to damage our working relationship, we've started attending therapy sessions.  The therapist recommended I do something morally "big" both to address my apparent "insecurity issues" and to remind my pencil I don't in fact harbor a deep, seething, all-consuming contempt for it in which images of its horrifically violent demise play themselves out repeatedly in my head.  Oh, and to reiterate that, in response to its popularity, I have absolutely not been mailing out death threats under the name Gunyoudown Stabbingstein Pilfercarcass III.
So!  For my moment of moral biggulence, I've decided to give my pencil a formal introduction.  Here it is in all its, uh, glory.  The little plastic debutante.
Say hello to my little pencil.
Now, the first thing you might notice is that there's nothing particularly special about it.  It's of a cheapish, blackish nature with a cruddy eraser and some teeth marks and it cost me about $2 at the office supply store.  It's called Twist-Erase!  The name not only tells you how to work the eraser, but it's cute too.  That's mighty clever.

I realize I sound a little passive-aggressive or…abrasive-adhesive (massive-analgesic?) But all of this actually does have a point, and that is to respond straightforwardly (with inane, convoluted drivel) to the pencil questions that have come to haunt my existence.  
So, without further ado:    
*My pencil does not possess special abilities, Poke-powers or +2 against undead.
*My pencil did not incite the French Revolution.
*My pencil does not contain the disembodied soul of the crimson ninja who discovered the secret to time travel.
*My pencil does not render sepia tone tinged sweetly with age.  It draws gray.

Exactly what kind of pencil -do- I use?  The regular kind.

(Except I totally riced it.)
Totally riced.

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And now, to be sincere (because if I try really hard, I can do that) I'd like to say thank you to everyone who's been kind enough to visit or to comment on my somewhat disturbing cat-related art.  When something disastrous comes of it, I can blame you all for encouraging me.  Even those of you who were only interested in my pencil.  

Seriously, you've all been way too nice.

For the curious, the comic www.lackadaisycats.com should officially begin in about the middle of July.  Yes!  There is something vaguely resembling a plot, even though I've only shown you random nonsense so far.

And, uh, if this sounded vastly more idiotic to you than even my previous journal entries, ummm…that's because Rocky edited it for me.  (He wrote "NEEDS MORE STUPID" in red pen all over the original copy and then lit it on fire.)

Editor-in-Jerk.
  • Listening to: Squirrel Nut Zippers - Wash Jones
  • Reading: Freakonomics
  • Watching: Cars
I saw X-Men: The Last Stand just the other night.  A few friends of mine seemed to really enjoy it, so naturally I felt it necessary to be contrary.  And when you have some negativity to spare, why not share with the rest?  (There are some vague-ish spoilers here, so if you haven't seen the movie and you're looking for someone to ruin your good time, by all means, keep reading.)

I had lukewarm feelings about it. I'm usually only inclined to write about films that wow me or which I find so repugnant, I'm overcome with the desire to light babies on fire. Except that this is frequently my sentiment regarding babies, and so I guess that's why I can't keep my mouth shut.  Now, I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong.  This -does- make sense. (Especially when I march indignantly up and down the street outside my house shouting it repeatedly into a megaphone with only my trashbag poncho to shield me from the stares.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Wolverine. He's supposed to be some sort of lonewolf-wildcard-hot-ticket, right? Well then how come everything he said and did was so completely predictable and only vaguely interesting? He seemed more like a milquetoast than a loose cannon to me. And how about that denim?  Faced with the furious power of Jean Grey's alter ego, his shirt summarily flew off, followed by his skin, but my, those pants remained conveniently unscathed.  Screw you, Wolverine.

Scott. What can I say? Perhaps it was for the better that we didn't have to put up with much of the former Backstreet Boy whose sunglasses somehow remain affixed to his face despite the cataclysmic energy blasting continually out of his pupils. Oh yeah. It's because they're tinted red, right?
And don't sunglasses seem like a rather precarious way of dealing with the uncontrollable death rays shooting from your orbits? I mean, what if his grandma said, "Scotty, I made you some lemon tarts. I know how you like lemon tarts with your soy milk," and Scotty, with anticipatory glee, turned his head to look upon the kindly matron proffering tarts and soy -- but alas! -- the seemingly innocent neck-swivel was too fast and his sunglasses fell off? Why? Why??
(Screw you, Scott.)

Rogue. What did she do? She waited in a queue. A beautiful moment in cinematic history. Right up there with Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch...or Hepburn gazing into the window at Tiffany's. Maybe even better than the entirety of Highlander 2. But that's debatable.

The Beast. The hairy blue love child of Colin Powell and Frasier?  It's probably better if we don't discuss this.

And, of course, some stuff happened. A bald boy played Nintendo. A bald guy fell apart.  Storm did a stand-up job reminding us how little personality she has. Phoenix, destroyer of planets, threw some gravel and water around at Alcatraz. That blue chick turned back into a supermodel and Magneto was left to earn a living doing Uri Gellar fork bending tricks and entertaining shrieking eight year olds at backyard birthday parties masquerading as "Mag Neato!" the magical hobo clown.*

*some of this may not have actually happened.

Really, in all honesty, it was pretty decent as superhero films go.  The fight choreography was better this time around, but, like the second installment, it seemed to lack the almost self-deprecating wit the first film had.

In other words, don't mind me. I'm just being an ass because...that's my superpower.

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On a separate note, I've started adding content at the Lackadaisy web site www.lackadaisycats.com.  The character page is up, and a couple of other small things.  Please pardon any broken links.  I'll be adding much of the rest of the content over the next couple of days, excluding the start of the comic, which still needs some work.

There may be some site glitchiness to start with, but :iconthurinus: has superpowers too and he's using them to help save me from making a mess with my CSS deficient habits.  

Yes, and I realize the premise of all of this requires perhaps even more suspension of disbelief than impossible mutants do, so feel free to jab.
  • Listening to: Al Jolson and Cab Calloway - I Love to Singa!
  • Reading: St. Louis: Then and Now
  • Watching: X-Men: The Last Stand
E3 is coming and it's trying to kill me, but I lived through another very, very long day thanks to the power of ducks.  Yes, duck power saved me.  I am animated testament to this.  You might be wondering how you too can harness potent duck power, but I'll tell you upfront that you can't.  You just have to wait until that fortuitous day when a passing duck condescends to bestow it upon you.
Well, okay, enough of the incoherence.  A coworker spotted a mother duck and her cavalcade of mini ducks tottering across a parking lot by the office and came to tell me about it.  They were heading straight for the not-very-duck-friendly interstate highway, as it turned out, so we grabbed a box and went chasing after them (why is it that, in terms of ratio, regard for traffic is inversely proportional to cuteness?).  It took only a few moments to catch the ducklings, but Mother Duck was having none of it.  She let us know this by squawking and waddling rapidly in circular patterns, the brilliant randomness of which had us completely outmaneuvered.  We had to enlist the help of the veterinary technicians in a neighboring building and the assistance of a pair of strangers in a passing car.  Before we knew it, there were about eight of us on a little patch of grass next to a high traffic area, running around like arm-flailing spastic idiots trying to tackle a disgruntled duck.  I'm sure the numerous passers-by all had a good laugh.  When at last we apprehended the feisty thing, my coworker and I did the honors of trucking the powder keg of a duck-filled box over to a nearby pond. It was a bit of a hairy ride, but the noise and the fury ceased the instant their little duck feet hit the water. And what a gratifying sight.  If I made a complete ass of myself - and there's no mistaking that I did - it was very worth it.  I went about the rest of the day with a duck-appointed smile.

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Well, I keep getting tagged, so I'll give in and be a good sport.  I'm not going to go tagging other people, though.  Those who've already been tagged seventeen (thousand) times seem a little adverse to it.
So…six weird things about me.  Alright then.

1.  On my planet, half and half is not just a coffee creamer.  It's a beverage.  A delicious, creamy beverage from heaven.

2.  The people who know me well enough to call me Toast (that's short for Super Fast Toast) know that I'm really a sentient carbohydrate.

3.  Sometime during the Neolithic period, I acquired a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

4.  I am in possession of a seven foot tall giraffe named Hannibal.  I have no particular affinity for giraffes, however, so I let him roam free in a corporate environment.

5.  The one time I was pulled over by a police officer I was fully decked out in camo gear and driving with a trunk full of MP5s and M16s.  The officer seemed more concerned by the orange soda I was drinking at the time, however. Evidently it was in a vaguely beerbottle shaped container.

6.  I have a cat named Calvin and this is what he looks like when he's about to rough somebody up…uh, in a slap fight:
Calvin gonna smack you

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And, in other news, I've registered lackadaisycats.com (there's nothing there yet...my order is still being processed and I have to set up hosting).  It's a clunkier URL than I would have liked, but just about every damn letter combination you can fathom ending with a dot-com has been snatched up.  I plan to set up other means of access to the site, though, so that hopefully even myopic chimpanzees on speed can type well enough to find it….which is good, because that's my target demographic.
  • Listening to: Squirrel Nut Zippers - My Drag
  • Reading: Lost Caves of St. Louis
  • Watching: Dr. Strangelove

Lackadaisy What Now?

Thu Mar 16, 2006, 1:21 AM
Trade show and conference season is upon us at work, which means we've been pulling a lot of early mornings, late nights and weekends this month to squeeze in last minute technology, art, bug fixes and to polish everything to an obsessive-compulsive shine.  Being a small developer, we've also had to build our own display booths and kiosks.  That much has been something of an adventure in experimental engineering, interior design, and numerous boxing matches with local signage printers.  Add to the sleeplessness and stress a diet consisting primarily of pizza (courtesy of the office) and energy drink, and it's been enough to reduce this art nerd to a pathetic, quivering gelatinous mass.  I attribute the quivering to the energy drink.  Why must the galvanizing nectar to the geeks always taste like a shampoo and cough syrup cocktail?

Just about the last thing I thought I'd be doing in the midst of all of this is starting a new project, but it just sort of came crashing in on me.  In fact, I was just minding my own business when a passing, run-away eighteen-wheeler careening brakelessly and headlong down the mountainside snagged my coat collar...in the good way.  I'm powerless to remove myself, but the truck and I haven't smacked into any deer and I haven't been unceremoniously detatched by oncoming traffic yet, so I'm just sort of enjoying the ride.   All I can figure is that this is all some sort of automated defense mechanism because this new thing called Lackadaisy sure has spared me from doing any langourous sulking these past weeks.  I'm dragging my feet, but I'm laughing.  I guess that makes the title a little ironic.

Speaking of irony...
I realize the characters are looking a little cutesy in the PG-rated-animated-feature sort of way, but I'll just put it out there that I don't enjoy cute unless there's a certain irony to be found in it.  Thus far, dark humor and parody seem natural to it, so I think I'll steer it in that direction (not that I'm steering this truck, really, but I can thrash about and pretend).  
Cartoon cats have been done to death, I know, but they seem so perfectly suited to comedic perusal of Prohibition era criminalism that it couldn't have -not- been cats...so kindly bear with me and rest assured it won't end up being as Don Bluth-y or Cats Don't Dance-y as some people have indicated it appears to be.

I know relatively little about comic writing and comic format too, and I really suck at lettering, but well, there's really only one way to learn.  So, clutching the arms of the side view mirror as the truck barrels onward, "here goes nothing," I say, as if I had any choice in the matter.

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Oh, and I promised :icontereseantonsen: a link to the very worthwhile Wildsidecomix Firm, and I'm late in delivering, so here it is. Check it out!
  • Listening to: Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies
  • Reading: Simulacra and Simulation
  • Watching: Duck Soup
I don't keep journals as a general rule.  I'm terrible about maintaining them, but I suppose I should make an effort to be a little more sociable before I regress permanently into reclusive-artist mode.

The hard part is thinking of what to say.  Er...something apolitical to say.  I'll just have to make with the small talk.

Well, it's been a busy year so far.  I bought my first house this past summer and if I ever wondered 'just how much work does it take to keep a 100 year old house from leaking like a sieve and then falling on you while you sleep?'...now I know.  This winter has involved much painting, plumbing repair, plaster patching, tile floor chiseling, general maintenance, and undoing of some of the previous owner's unsuccessful do-it-yourself-isms.  A lot of money and sweat invested, but it's been very gratifying to see it beginning to look the way I envisioned it when I first walked through with my realtor and very foolishly fell in love (with the house, not the realtor).  
I'm anxious for spring so I can get my hands into some gardening...

Work is a grand old time.  If you can ride with the sometimes fanatical pace of it all, there's room to appreciate the process and the experience of being part of an extraordinary creative endeavor.  As a teenager, I recall reading journal accounts written by independent filmmakers chronicling the ups and downs and dramas of the production process.  Something about that -- a relatively small group of creative types getting together and working their collective asses to the bone (the ass bone) to finish with something larger than themselves -- appealed to me at a very fundamental level. I wished for a long time I could be part of something like that.  It took me a little while to realize that's precisely what I'm doing now.  A lucky girl am I.
For those who have no idea what I'm blathering about, I'm an artist with a computer game company.  The game we're developing is entitled Hero's Journey...and a newly-tasty-improved-enhanced version of the official web site has recently gone up. www.herosjourney.net

Wow.  This is getting wordy.  I'll wrap it up.

As a penultimate point (I like ridiculous words, okay?) I'm very extremely honored to have my artwork featured on the cover of Deep Magic (www.deep-magic.net) this month.  There's an interview included inside.

And lastly, thanks, everyone, for all the comments on my work.  It's been very encouraging and exciting to mingle with all the talents here.

Fin.