"Whoa, I'm a cartoonist "..."
That thought pops into my head nearly every week. It seems like many creators are born knowing they want to do comics. I sort of lucked my way into the field through a personal project I assigned myself two years ago.
Because I do artsy stuff in my day-to-day design job, I sometimes lack the drive to sit down and just make art, especially when there are so many cat videos waiting to be watched on the interwebs. So, in June of 2013, after a long dry spell of no art-making (and inspired by a glass of wine - or two), I challenged myself to create a drawing every day for a year.
As an incentive to stick with the project, I declared it publicly, posting to Facebook and Instagram every day. As silly as it might sound, getting feedback through likes and comments really kept me going. I started spending more time on the execution; the drawings became more detailed, and then I started using ink. The characters and situations became more silly and I started adding dialog. Toward the end of the year, I was basically creating a gag comic every day.
Several people told me I should try to get syndicated, and I thought "why not?" Though I never thought to create comics myself, I grew up reading them nearly every day, with strips like Luann, Rose is Rose, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side among my favorites. So, some friends helped me pick out the funniest drawings, which I reworked till they sparkled, then sent them off to three major syndicates.
After a couple months and at least one rejection letter, I felt pretty sure that the syndication route was not going to pan out. But then, to my great delight, Universal Uclick offered me a spot on GoComics! What?? Of course, I said, "YES."
Shortly after that, I remember thinking, "Ohmygosh I have to make comics for real now." I think I've settled in to the comic-making gig quite nicely, though I'm still fine-tuning. I love hearing how other cartoonists work, so I'm going to share my process with you!
Each week I have two goals: 1) Add at least three concept sketches to my Idea Book in several brainstorming sessions, and 2) Pick three ideas from that book to ink and color. If I have a hard time picking ideas, I know I need to spend more time with goal No. 1!
My concept sketches are barely legible even to me, so I always start by re-sketching my ideas onto layout bond to fit the panel template size, then trace those onto Bristol board using a lightbox. I'll ink the drawings with a dip pen or brush, with all three in that week's batch in rotation so I can keep working while the ink is drying on the others (this is only partially effective - I often smear the ink anyway). Lastly, I scan the drawings for touch-ups and coloring in Photoshop. Each cartoon takes about 1.5 hours from sketch to completion. I've tried to whittle that down a bit, but usually just end up with more ink blobs in my haste. Overall, this process is working well, and I'm able to keep a backlog of 24 comics, which keeps me two months out at three comics a week.
But Wait - The Daily Drawing isn't Daily!
A few folks have asked why my strip is called The Daily Drawing when I only post three comics a week. I'd say it's either a lack of forethought on my part, or extreme optimism? I'd love to post every day, but life being what it is, I have settled on Monday-Wednesday-Friday installments. BUT, I do still draw every day and post the results to my Daily Drawing website and Instagram. And, in keeping with the cheeky double-entendre I attempted to convey in the name, my daily drawings are a grab bag of whatever I feel like doodling in the moment.
That's All Folks
This is becoming a really long post for such a nascent comics career, so I'll sign off by saying thanks to all my readers and anyone who has ever liked or commented on my posts (I'm still sheepishly validated by social media nonsense). I love making people laugh and I look forward to churning out more ridiculous not-so-daily comics!