Tim and I don't take long walks on the beach...we do takes long walks around the neighbourhood though. With the dog. And a plastic bag for poop-bombs.
How much more intimate can a long walk get?
You know that song..."Do you Like Pina Coladas" by Rupert Holmes? (Yeah, I know the title is actually "Escape" but I think of it as the Pina Colada song) I have no idea why but it popped into my head one day while I was trying to write my strips. It ended up inspiring a two week series that began yesterday. "Inspired" makes the writing process sound a whole lot deeper than it really was. I wrote the first couple of strips based on some of the Pina Colada lyrics for fun and the rest of the story just spun off from there.
Here are yesterday's and today's strips...
...and now begins a little middle-aged marriage quest for rekindled romance...you can follow along by visiting the Toronto Star Diversions link.
...and speaking of the Pina Colada song, here it is to enjoy during your next coffee break...(just try to ignore the cheesy dancers in the background)
Yeah...yeah...the whole world is going digital. I know. I still like paper. I draw with a pencil. I ink with...well, INK. I've purchased 5 books in the past month. TANGIBLE books. A book to me is more than the read...it's something. I read two newspapers every morning. The kind that you spread out on your kitchen table and turn actual pages. I tear out feature articles I want to give a closer read later on and rip out recipes and cut out the occassional cartoon strip to stick on my fridge.
And speaking of cartoon strips...I love looking at real works of cartoon art. There's something mesmerizing and amazing about actually seeing the brush strokes, the pen scratches and the light traces of erased pencil sketchings...knowing that the ink on the page was connected to the creator. Somehow it makes the art more real. Does that sound weird? I don't care. It's true. I enjoy the cartoon whether I read it in a book or read it online. But seeing the art up close and personal is a different experience all together.
Digital has its place. And its place is expanding at the speed of light. I know that as well as anyone. My head's not stuck in the sand.
But...I kinda think the all-encompassing, ever-expanding take-over of digital is doing something we probably don't even realize most of the time. It's making paper a little more "real"...and a little more personal...and a lot more special.
Yep. I love paper.
A week or so ago, I "went over the river" (as we Canadians call it when we cross the the Niagara River to get to the United States) to assist the NCS Upstate New York Chapter with the Reuben Award Judging in the Book Illustration category. Lots of fun and nice to see my old friends, Graham Nolan, Frank Mariani and Margaret Shulock and to meet Scott Jensen for the first time. (and hoping to see him again soon!)
I'm hosting the NCS Canada Chapter judging for the editorial cartoon division on Friday. I was hoping to have my living room painted (hasn't been done in years because I can't decide on a colour) and the drapes replaced (I got rid of the valances because they had faded), get some new window treatments for my kitchen (threw out the old ones when we put in new windows and I can't decide what I want to put up there), buy a new fridge and stove (we've had ours since we got married...the d@mn things just wouldn't die...but our fridge is hovering on konking out and we're going out on Thursday to buy new appliances...just didn't get around to it in time for this Friday). However, my studio renovation is complete. And when you're having a bunch of cartoonists over to your home...well...priorities, priorities.
I'll just dazzle everyone with wine and lots of food...and more wine. Who cares about window treatments anyway?
Here are the photos of my expanded studio with new paint and carpet...
The entrance to my room still needs to be painted white as well. The STUFF that's on the ledge is only there temporarily until I decide where I want to hang things. I plan on keeping the shelf "clutter-free". It'll be a challenge, but that's the plan.
My computer table...still lots of odds and ends messing it up...my tape for my holding my strips in place, telephone cabe, tacks and other little bits of STUFF. I do love my new carpet...very soft and warm. There's concrete floor under the carpet so it's very nice to have.
And finally, my table where I draw and ink. I'm due for a new T-square...the one I have is at least thirty years old. I was going to buy those hard plastic mats to put under the table and my computer station chair but I think I'm going to buy a little section of flat carpet with some red in it to match my HOT APPLE SPICE WALL. :)
I tried to replicate what I kept doing last night...after I finished the last bits of painting, vacuuming and moving my desks into position...turned off the lights except for my art table light and look at my new room and go "aaaaaaaah". :)
Oooooo. I've finished painting my studio. ( the sliding closet doors and the entrance door need to be painted white and I have a few minor touch-ups to do ) It looks sooooooo nice. Did I tell you the new carpet has been installed too?
I don't have much colour sense so it was tough picking out the paint. The thing that really helped was the Benjamin Moore web site. I had a few ideas so I just kept clicking through the different photos until I found colours that looked good together and appealed to me. Here are the colours I chose...Putnam Ivory Sahara for the main walls...
and Hot Apple Spice for the accent wall...
Doors and trim are in white.
Here's a photo with the colours to give you an idea. (this photo uses monroe bisque but I opted for the putnam ivory which seems to be just a wee bit less greeny-yellow)
When I find my camera, I'll put up my own photo. Now I need to find an insert for the closet for storage shelving and I'm going to scout IKEA for additional storage items. It's taken me a long time to get this far but it's been worth it because I REALLY love how things are turning out!
There have been some huge changes in the comics pages around here.
To all the readers who have been contacting me regarding the cancellation of Between Friends in their Southern Ontario local papers over the past few days, I want to thank you for your concern and kind words.
Unfortunately, there was a major reduction in the comics line-up of this newspaper chain and twelve strips have now been cut back to four. Newspaper clients come and newspaper clients go in this business. That's the nature of comic strip syndication...but these cuts are drastic.
What is especially sad for me in this particular instance, is that this reduction has affected my hometown newspaper and the local papers in the region where I live. "Between Friends" has been published in the St. Catharines Standard for 23 years...even before I was syndicated internationally by King Features. I was mentored by the wonderful Mr. Murray Thomson, the managing editor of the Standard many years ago. I wrote about my path to becoming a syndicated cartoonist and the meetings I had with Mr. Thomson a few years back in this blog.
My strip is published all over the world...India, South Africa, Australia and Jamaica for example. It is pretty darn cool to be published in those countries. Actually, it's pretty darn cool to have my comic strip published anywhere! Hearing from readers all over the world is quite an experience. I really enjoy hearing from readers who tell me the lives of my women characters mirror their own. Knowing that women in Melbourne, Australia, and Cape Town, South Africa are empathizing and chuckling about the same cartoons as women from St. John's, Newfoundland and Seattle, Washington tells me there's a little something in the female gender that connects us all. (And to my male readers, I love it that they 'get' and enjoy my strip too!)
But...as I mentioned above...losing my local papers hurts.
I really appreciate all the nice things people have been telling me about how they enjoyed Between Friends. Thank you. ...and let your editor know too.
So my son is in the midst of writing his final exams at university. Half the year already gone...we just dropped him off yesterday. At least it feels that way. I'm leaving shortly to take my daughter to an information session at our local university. She still has another year in high school and she wants to go away to school but she's the organized type and is researching all her options. She wants to see what THEY will offer HER.
I kinda like the way she thinks.
So...do you want to hear how my high school presentation went yesterday?
It went well. At least I think it did. You'd have to ask the class to get the real scoop. I think they liked seeing how I took the strip from pencils to inks to colour. And...I think they liked seeing the pages from my brainstorming book. The one place I think I got muddled was trying to explain the different rhythms of writing.
A few years ago...actually, quite a few years ago...I was chatting with my editor at King and he mentioned to me that he noticed all my gags had the same rhythm. The beats leading up to the punchline all fell into the same pattern. I hadn't realized it but as soon as he pointed it out, I could see what he was talking about. My writing had fallen into a rut. The content was still varied but the way I was presenting it was all based on the same " beat...BEAT...BEAT...PUNCH!"
I tried explaining the "beat...beat" thing to the class but I have a feeling they lost me. I showed these four strips to try to explain how I varied the rhythm and pacing of the gags to make the strip more interesting and not become monotonous and predictable to the reader.
In this strip there are four gentle beats. I say "gentle" because there are no written words and I think the drawings reflect a flow of three soft, overlapping beats as opposed to three individual, distinct beats. The last drawing is the punchline. So - if I try to explain these beats as a type of equation, I would say it goes like this: one quiet extended beat lasting over three beats of time plus one soft individual beat.
You're probably beginning to understand why I think I lost the students in my explanation.
In this strip there is just one strong beat. The punch is at the beginning of the panel as opposed to the punch being at the end of the strip above. This strip is a much quicker "read" because the punchline (or the point of the cartoon) is at the beginning of the strip and your "thinking" is done right away. The first strip requires you to "read" the drawings that lead to the punchline and takes a bit longer. The endorphins strip spells out the gag right away, the ballerina strip is a more thoughtful read.
The most obvious difference in this strip is that it is read in three frames. I would say the most usual punchline in a comic strip is short and snappy. That's not always the case, by any means...but I would say that is the most typical. In this strip, frames A and C have similar word length and the frame B has the "typical" short and snappy comment. I'm not saying that any particular juggle of words or pacing is the "right" way to write a comic. In fact, the whole point I'm trying to make is that there are many ways to pace a comic to keep the writing interesting.
The above strip consists of four frames which is the format I use most often. Of course, the pacing in four frames can be handled in any number of ways, but in this strip each frame is equally wordy. What adds to the rhythm of this strip is repetition of the words, "This is the LAST....(insert indulgence)...I'm eating before I start my diet to lose twenty pounds on Monday." The punchline is actually just one single word inserted at the end of the thought bubble in frame four.
I don't know if I made any sense at all to the students with these explanations or if they thought I was a crazy lady talking about beat-beat-beats.
In any case, I have to say they were a very nice group of students. They had a few questions. Two of them want to become writers. Several of them like to draw. One student doodled during my presentation and I was impressed with her talent. I was surprised at the number of them that read the comics in our local newspaper everyday. I wasn't expecting that many would. And a LOT them like comic books...most were Marvel fans...and a lot of those Marvel fans were girls.
So all in all, it went pretty well. But as I say...I guess you'd really have to ask the students. :)
In a very short while, I'll be on my way to do a presentation for a grade 12 creative writing class. At my daughter's high school.
I asked the teacher what types of things she would like me to address. She said she'd like me talk about my creative process. Ummmm.... Then she spelled it out...the brainstorming...assembling the ideas...editing...showing how I don't just sit down and dash off a coherent idea. Demonstrate that the writing takes planning and formulating and polishing.
How did she know that that's exactly what I do? (She teaches a creative writing class, that's how.) Writing a comic strip is writing...both with words and with drawing.
I've put together a little Power Point presentation for the class. It's going to be a very casual presentation. I've included some background on what syndication is, how it works and a little info about my strip.
Now that it's getting down to the wire here...I'm getting a wee bit nervous. I mean...these are teenagers and I'm...not. They aren't the demographic that my cartoons appeal to and I had a tough time choosing which strips to show.
So...we'll see how it goes. I did rip a few pages out of my brainstorming book to show my "writing process". I hope it's educational or at least a little informative. I hope I don't bore them to tears. I hope there are some questions.
I guess I better get ready to go...can you tell I'm procrastinating? I'll tell you how it went tomorrow.
I didn't realize I'd been away so long! And you're STILL checking in? Wow...I am feel flattered and guilty. So what's new? Well...Devin is away at university. He's loving it. I have mixed feelings. That's another post.
Are you wondering how my studio reno is going? It's going...but slowly. Are you anything but surprised? We had our new carpet installed last week in both my studio and the family room. I LOVE IT. Next up is to finish scraping wallpaper and paint. Then I can hit IKEA for some shelving, desks or whatever I decide to buy and begin to bring things back into my studio. It is going to be so organized, I don't know if I'll be able to stand it. I won't post pics until we get the painting done. HOPEFULLY in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I had a request to repost my "I am woman, hear me roar..." series...so, here they are...
If you live in my neck of the woods (the Niagara region in Southern Ontario), you're invited to a presentation I'll be giving on September 19 in Port Colborne at the Central United Church. I'm giving the inside scoop on how I create my Between Friends comics...influences behind some strips, reader reaction and a few anecdotes here and there. All through Power Point of course. What's a talk about cartoons without the visuals? And if you have any burning questions to ask, I'll open it up for discussion afterward.
Admittance is give-as-you-wish.
Where: Central United Church, Port Colborne, Ontario
When: Wed., Sept 19 @ 7:00
(The article says "ladies-only"...but I'll sneak in any of you guys that want to attend)