Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Open Challenge

Writer/illustrators, save the date. October 18 is 24 Hour Comics Day: http://www.24hourcomicsday.com/

In short, the goal is to create a 24 page comic in 24 hours. You stay up all night. You come in without a story. You can bring different reference materials, but you should come in without a preconceived idea of what you'll be doing. There are all kinds of variants about finishing (do as much as you can in 24 hours, do as much as you can in 24 hours and finish up what may be left in the future, etc.). The goal is to create 24 pages, but the achievement is spending 24 hours writing and drawing.

I think comics are a great all-ages medium, and all people interested in kids' books needs to have a careful look at comics. And I challenge you to participate n this event. Usually, you start at around noon on the Saturday and work straight through, though starting at any time on October 18th works. Of course, you can do the challenge at any time, but the 18th is the official event date. Post a comment if you are interested in doing this thing... Austin is a hotbed of comics activity and holds the record for most people gathered to do 24-hour comics (at least, I don't think that record has been broken).

And for honesty's sake, I've done this twice. I finished 12 pages the first year and 17 the second. This year, I will be doing 24! Or die trying.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Creativity Exercise, or What Was I Thinking?

I'd been planning to launch a Web comic for a while, and after a long period of planning, character design, and writing, I did so on January 1 of this year. But as an afterthought, I also decided to launch another project that had been in my mind. For that, I would create a new dog every day: drawings, photos, animations, writing, or any other creative exercise. The idea was that it would keep my creativity sharp, and force me to draw very regularly. But, I told myself, it would be secondary to the Web comic.

What was I thinking?

There is a quote about never working with children or dogs. They take over. And my dogs took over. When my teaching schedule looked heavy this summer, it was the Web comic that took a hiatus. I haven't missed a dog yet. And I believe that I haven't taken the easy way out by repeating myself or using the same style day in and day out.

I made a commitment to draw a dog every day, January 1 to December 31. Three hundred and sixty-six dogs (I forgot it was a leap year when I made the commitment). I take that commitment very seriously. It may not matter to anyone else, but it means a lot to me. And I've experienced some real artistic growth because of it.

Which is why I now extend a challenge to any creative types reading this. I challenge you to find a similar project, something that forces you to keep a commitment to regularly create. As stressful as it's been at times, realizing that I have to get to work on a dog when I simply wish to drop onto the couch after a hard day, I don't regret it.

I've posted it on the Web every day, to keep me honest. And I've developed a small following. Sold some t-shirts. Made some interesting contacts with people who've written to me about the project and shared their dog photos and drawings with me. I've watched my creativity grow, my drawing skills improve and my confidence as an artist grow. And when the year is over, I will continue to draw dogs regularly. Not every day, and not on a proscribed schedule. But I hope to post at least weekly, to keep my regular visitors coming back for more.

Now it's your turn.

Oh, by the way, you can find my Web comic, Hex Libris, right here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bernard Dummy

Here's what I've been working on--a dummy for the story about Bernard. Here's a black and white spread and a full color one (the last page of the book). I'm liking the illustrations but doubting the quality of the text. I'm ready for a new project, I think!

Illustration Friday and MORE!

“Erreck, erreck,” croaked Bandi Boodle Boo
as the ship glided through the South China Sea.
With a kind look the helmsman said, “Chin up my friend.
You have not heard them all.”

This is my post for Illustration Friday on my personal Blog. We will be giving this blog a facelift here in the near future. Keeping checking back to see what those zany Inklings are up to.