I don’t think too many people actually read this blog, so I’m treating those of who you do to a little preview.
Hopefully within the next few weeks, my new website will be launched. One of the things that will be on the new site will be something I’ve long wanted to dabble in: a webcomic.
I’ve been trying to get around to starting a comic for years. As a little kid, I drew a few stick figure comic strips featuring a character I called “Mr. 70’s”. In high school, I tried my hand at some characters that looked like the bastard lovespawn of Archie Comics and Doonsbury.
The trouble with these false starts – aside from my age – was that I had no outlet. While most of my followers are likely not too familiar with such a dark era, there was a time when the Internet was a special thing, a relatively new phenomenon still hindered by dial-up modems and dominated by archaic services like AOL.
Now, webcomics existed, but they were fewer, and they didn’t have quite the same following that many have now. I didn’t actually discover webcomics at all, personally, until just after my senior year of high school. It would be a couple more years before it even occurred to me that I could create one of my own.
Even when it did occur to me, though, the time just never seemed right. Just before I moved to Tacoma, several years ago, I was playing around in Adobe Illustrator and doodled a few ideas for a cartoonish character based on my Adam the Alien logo. It would be almost a year before I returned to that design.
In fact, I may have never returned to it if it hadn’t been for the Frost Park Chalk-Offs.
My first contribution of chalk art to the hallowed sidewalks of Frost Park was a poor rendering of my logo’s mouthless alien, wearing a YouTube shirt. I was basically just trying to pimp my YouTube channel.
Over the course of the following weeks and months, however, my artwork improved. An incredibly self-conscious artist, I found a certain freedom in getting to play in a medium that was inherently temporary. What’s more, I couldn’t very well crumple up the pavement and throw it away in frustration. If I screwed up, I had live with it or find a way to make it right.
Finally, one chalky Friday, I returned to the more expressive alien design I’d conceived of when I was still living in Oregon. I gave the alien a mouth, and light blue eyes in place of the soulless black vacuum they’d been up to that point.
From there, things began falling into place quickly and naturally. My artwork improved, and so did my confidence. The idea of creating a webcomic popped into my head again and again, waiting for the day I would actually sit down and do it.
Last night was that night, I pulled out my trusty Wacom tablet, sat down, and started putting together a comic. I spent all night working on the still-unfinished strip – the preview included above – because I was experimenting with different methods.
Ultimately, I cheated a bit with this one. Most of the visuals are altered and edited (both through filters and by hand) photographs from NASA’s archives. The spaceship is entirely my creation, and trying to get the right look for it, when combined with the more realistic altered photos, took the better part of the night. The flight trail behind it took the other part.
This won’t be my usual method, thankfully – the comic will typically have a more stylized, cartoonish look. But occasionally incorporating photos and completely different styles of art is something I think is marvelously fun – perhaps because I have fond memories of the random bits of live action inserted into the Muppet Babies cartoon. From time to time, as I feel confident to do so, I also hope to try my hand at fully-drawn, epic landscapes. I would be dishonoring Bill Watterson – whose six-year-old terror I went on many adventures with as a child – if I didn’t at least make the attempt.
I’m going to try to get as many strips done as I can before the site goes up. It’d be nice to start with a buffer, even if I know I’ll use it up sooner than I’d like. The important thing, though, is that I’m no longer relegating the webcomic dream to the department of great ideas that will never come to pass.
I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I’m already enjoying making it.