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Ask Me Anything! Ask published cartoonist Davy Jones anything about producing a comic strip for newspapers or ask for tips when appearing in Artist's Alley

Davy Jones
Jan 7, 2018

Are you producing a comic strip and want some tips? Are you a fan of my comic strip and have questions about my characters? Are you an artist in artist's alley needing info on what I have done successfully? Wanna know all the crazy things I did wrong in Artist's Alley? Well. ASK ME ANYTHING!!!!!

I have spent three years in Artist's Alley doing everything wrong for the first year. At the same time, I was doing one thing right.... What was that one thing? Making friends and learning from the very best in the industry. Finally, last year, I have a firm grasp on surviving Artist's Alley. I would love to share my knowledge with you all!

Also over the past two years, I have enjoyed being syndicated to three newspapers across the country. After not succeeding with the big syndicates, I decided to syndicate myself. That is no easy task, but slowly but surely, newspapers are taking me seriously. I would love to share with you anything I can to help you get your comic strip noticed. Ask me anything about the industry. Ask me anything about creating a winning comic strip. I want to help bring new life into newspapers across the country!

Check out my comic strip online at www.charmysarmy.com.

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Conversation (49)

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One of the best ComicsAMA here, thanks for sharing!!

Jan 7, 12:18PM EST1

You are SO very welcome!!!!!!!!

Jan 7, 12:20PM EST0

Thanks for all the questions! The live portion of the event will go on for another 20 minutes. If no one else posts andy questions, then I will close it down. If I start getting questions, we will stay here all day if we have to. :)

Get your questions in soon and I will answer them asap.

If you missed this session, follow me on my website HERE to track the next AMA Feed event.

Jan 7, 11:12AM EST0

How do you make your own work stand out?

Jan 4, 11:16AM EST0

There are so many elements to my work that makes my comic strip stand out.

HAND LETTERED - There is something out a strip's appearance when it is hand lettered. The letters become part of the drawing! When a cartoonist uses fonts, their work has a flat look to it. My success skyrocketed ONLY AFTER hand lettering was added to my omic strips.

UNIQUE DRAWING STYLE - Yoiu cannot stand out unless your style is different than anyone else. There are a lot of webcomics out there and most of their styles look exactlu like the next web cartoonist's style. Research the masters from the 60's and 70's. These are the eras where everyone truly embraced being different than the next cartoonist. That is what I did at a very young age. It took me 20 years to develop and master my own cartooning style.

FUN CHARACTERS - It is important to have a cast that is diverse and fun, The characters in my comic strip are all parts of my own personalities as I grew up. Some are based on people I knew asa kid. My cast is all fractions of my life. Since the characters all relate to my soul, they are easy to write stories about and super easy to make fun and lovable.... lol.....

The success I have seen over the past three years alone has me floored. I launched my comic strip seven and a half years ago. After all the syndicates passed on two rounds of submissions, I nearly counted myself out. Fortunately, there were five different people at the syndicates and one syndicated cartoonist pushing me to self publish because they believed in me and Charmy's Army.

I landed a newspaper right off the bat and began touring all over Texas, appearing at comic cons tiny and humongous. The reception was insane! In three years I had built an extremely large and loyal fanbase.

I began contacting newspapers again last year and within 3 months I landed two more newspapers. Beginning in 2018, I will begin a weekly campaign, contacting 3 newspapers via email per week. The focus now is not on comic con success; It is on being successful in print because that is the future for me if I ever want to become a cartoonist full time and make a living at this.

So... the final thing that makes me stand out...

DETERMINATION - I am the most determined cartoonist out there today. I wish the syndicates could just see how determined I am, how amazing my comic strip truly is, and how loyal and ravid my readers are to and about Charmy's Army.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:23AM EST.
Jan 7, 10:05AM EST0

From what you mentioned, it seemed that the industry has a lot of talents out there, how did you syndicate yourself and the lessons you learned along the way?

Jan 3, 11:01AM EST1

I syndicated myself by emailing three newspapers each week. I never hear back in nearly every case. If I do, they state they get their strips from a syndicate. I am betting the ones who do not respond are getting their froma syndicate as well and just do not want to deal with the artists directly. Makes sense.

There are so many talented cartoonists out there. You are so correct about that. They all wish to be syndicated and the syndicates just do not pick up new talent anymore. Again, it makes sense. There are no openings available.

The true lesson I have learned is that the industry needs to change. I have a great idea on how this change will occur, but I cannot share that here. I am hoping to work with a few cartoonists I know in regards to my vision.

Bottom line is times are different. We need to evolve. Newspapers may not be the answer. Syndicates get thousands of submissions each year. THOUSANDS. The industry has been this way since the 1960's though. Everyone wants to be a cartoonist... and there are some really good ones, way better than me, out there!

One thing I have learned is that there is a huge audience out there hungry for quality comic strips that are not "dated and stale". I see them at every comic con I appear at. I feel confident that the industry will turn around once the syndicates see what I see at the shows every month.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:28AM EST.
Jan 5, 11:50PM EST0

How do you deal with critics and does your work get affected?

Jan 3, 7:20AM EST1

I love critics! I listen and take notes.

I have very thick skin. You must if you want to be the best you can be. I have worked very hard and have gotten very good thanks to some of the harshest criticism you could imagine.

I was so terrible just ten years ago... and I thought I was amazing. I was taking shortcuts, using fonts and rushing my work. I am actually very imbarrased to even look at the first three years of comic strips from Charmy's Army.

I had some people online tear my work apart in a forum. It was stunning at first. I remember the comment that it looked as though a fifth grader drew it. I was actually so good when I was in high school. I was taking my time on each panel. I was trying to imulate my heroes. I had lost sight of what made a comic strip great.

I ten entered my comic strip into a contest and again was barraged with criticism focusing on my writing and on my use of fonts. I took it all to heart and began writing every day. EVERY day. I use my lunch hour to write. Over the course of time, something snapped and I became really good.

Bottom line... critics are here to make me stronger. They have made my work better.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:29AM EST.
Jan 5, 11:39PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

So far, which comic art technique are your comfortable with and often do?

Jan 3, 6:24AM EST1

I am very comforatble with all the techniques I use. Once you do this every single day for decades, creating art is a breeze.

For my comic strip, I use Faber Castell pens, I love these things. They are extensions of my fingertips. Everyone will have their favorites though. I had a big name cartoonist look at me like I was stupid when I told him I used these pens. A lot of cartoonist hate these pens because they can be difficult to work with,. The secret is to use rally good bristol board. The paper surface is key.

When I do my commissions, I use Copic markers. I love Copic markers. I only do black and white, I have had a lot of artists in Artist's Alley compliment me on my blending technique. The trick again is the paper. The ISSUE is that I do my commissions on Blank Variant Comic Books and the paper sometimes is TERRIBLE.

But when I do get a good cover, the results are amazing!

These are the techniques I do all the time. Pen and Ink and Copics. If you do something enough, every single day, it just becomes natural.

Here is a prime example of Pen and Ink and Copics....

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:29AM EST.
Jan 5, 11:28PM EST0

Apart from work, what are your hobbies and interests?

Jan 3, 4:47AM EST1

I once loved video games with a passion. I no longer have time to that. I am drawing all the time.... or I am promoting my comic strip. I have not played a game since The Twilight Princess.

I love Pro Wrestling! Mondays are my night off.... though I am usually drawing.... I must watch Monday Night Raw every Monday night. I never miss an episode.

I love music. I wish I had learned to play an instrument as a kid. I have songs in my head all the time that I would love to write. I cannot write music.... I can read it pretty well.... but not well enough. My favorite bands are Cheap Trick, The Beatles and Pink Floyd in that order. I have seen Cheap Trick a few dozen times. They are amazing. I have not been to a concert in ten years. Again, I have no time anymore.

I love watching my sons play soccer. This is about to end soon, My youngest is a senior in high school so this season is the last season. Once this is over, there will be no more games. I coached both of my sons for years. I loved that with a passion as well. I was a decent coach. I had the same team year after year and only lost a few games. My sons were very good,,,, and the winning credits go to them. Anyways, in a few months the season will be over and I am going to cry like a baby.

I really have no time for fun little hobbies anymore. My day job takes up 40 plus hours each week. That leaves me with very little time for my comic strip. Looking at the amount of strips, art and promotions I did last year, you would think I did this full time. I have no idea how I cranked out so much art... so many commission for my readers... while maintaining quality as I did in 2017.

To be honest, I do not want to do anything else but draw and create at this poit in my life, If I had one hobby to talk about it is drawing stuff for my readers. I love creating thiese original sketch covers for anyone who wants to purchase some one of a kind art from me. Here is one of my favorite covers I have drawn up for any of my readers....

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:33AM EST.
Jan 5, 11:14PM EST0

Do you touch on political views when doing a comic strip on newspapers and what's the worst that can happen?

Jan 3, 1:54AM EST1

Thanks for this question!!!!

NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!

I believe comic strips should make everyone laugh. EVERYONE. With political humor, someone is going to take offense. If I want someone to take offense, I will write a good fart joke.

The other issue with being political is that I just do not find political jokes funny... whether I agree with the point of view or not. I was a huge fan of Bloom County for so many years. I remember Berke began getting political towards the end and the strip became so dry. It lsot its spark. I want readers to fall in love with my characters, tuning in each week to see what the gang is doing this time. I want each visit to result in a laugh and a warm feeling.

If a reader wants to think, go read the New York Times.

I have no issue with politics being in comic strips. Please don't get me wrong. You just will not find politics or personal views in my strip... with maybe an exception or two. An exception being that I have thanked our troops before on Veteran's Day... and I have counted my Blessings a few times with a moral message in an attempt to thank God for my talents He has given me,,,, but I never impose my religious beliefves upon my readers.

So, what is the worse that can happen? You view could alienate some readers. Readers not only follow a strip because they love the characters... Reader follow the cartoonists as well. If you put a bad taste in their mouth, they may lose respect and interest in and for you. I do a lot of comic con appearances and the readers come out to see me and not to see the characters. They come to see the guy making them laugh. You cannot afford to turn off your readers by expressing your point of view.

Short Answer? No, I am scared no one will like me anymore.

That said, here is the only strip I can think of where I came close to being "political"....

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:35AM EST.
Jan 5, 11:00PM EST0

Keep the questions coming. I am reviewing them all now.

Be sure and check out my work HERE for inspiration in case you need help coming up with a question. Maybe you'll have an idea for a question after reading a few strips.

Jan 2, 9:53PM EST0

What tools or software do you use and what can you recommend to new artists?

Jan 2, 7:57PM EST0

I am "old school". I will say this over and over again.... Computers are great and I do use computers for coloring.

Let's begin in order. I begin with a sketch of each panel. I just use a cheap mechanical pencil. Nothing special. I find the cheap pencils comfortable. You should always use what feels good to you. Everyone is different.

Once the pencils are completed, I use Faber Castell pens. The main one I use is a brush pen, You can get some amazing line variations with that pen when used correctly.

The most important peice to the puzzle is the paper.

Yes, more than anything, a good sheet of paper makes good pens great. A bad sheet of paper makes am amazing pen TERRIBLE.

I use smooth bristol board for my comic strips. I draw them very large too. I fill the strip up on an 11 x 17 sheet of bristol board. It gets expensive, but the results are so amazing.

I scan my art into my computer. I use an Epson printer/scanner. The scanning surface scans 11 x 17 paper. It is pretty big!

Once scanned in at 300 dpi, I color the strip in Photoshop. I have a VERY old version of Photoshop. I would love to get the new version, but you have to pay a monthly subscription to use it now. I need to get into more papers so I can afford that!!! lol.....

When I do my sketch covers, I use Copic Markers for the grays. I love Copic markers. They are SO expensive though. My profit level after the cost of pens, Copics and the comic book blank variant is not very much considering the hours I put into each one. Here is the latest one I did!....

These are a lot of fun. I usually get two or three commissions at each comic con.... though last year I only had one at each of the last three shows. Comic Cons are so expensive. It I do not make at least three commissions, I am boomed to lose maoney at the show.

Now, you should experiement with all sorts of pens, papers and ink. The correct pen and paper can help you develop your style. Case in point, my hand lettering,

HANDLETTERING - I use a Faber Castell 1,5 pen. I have tried about 50 or more pens trying to establish my lettering style. This pen is magic. I found this pen have way through my search for the ultimate pen. I love the results. Here is the crazy thing, I cannot match my hand lettering using any other pen!!!!! This one pen is THE onlt pen I can use for lettering my comic strip by hand. If Faber Castell ever discontinues production of the 1,5, I am going to be forced into retirement!!!!!

Experiment around for yourself and have fun. Stay away from drawing digital. There is something so special and REAL about drawing things on paper!!!!!

Jan 5, 10:40PM EST0

As a child, were you already drawn to comic arts and what was your favorite comics?

Jan 2, 4:46PM EST1

I have wanted to be a cartoonist since I was four years old. Yes, I have always been drawn to comics. My grandmother would read me the sunday funnies as a child and I knew my calling. I would make my own comics one day and make people happy.

Let me dive deeper into your question..... Was I always drawn to comic "ART"?  Again, the answre is YES!!!! At the age of 7 I began studying the different styles possessed by individual cartoonists. At that early age, I understood how cartoonists each had their own style. I knew I needed to develop my own style in order to make it as a cartoonist.

I was first drawn the the drawing style of Charles M, Schulz. I had a dozen or so paerback collections dating back to his strips beginings back in 1950. The collection spanned through the 60's and into the early 70's. His drawing style changed a lot over that time period.

Aroud the age of 9 I discovered Mad Magazine and fell in love with the art style of Don Martin. I prefer his early work from the 1960's over his latter work which I found to be a bit too tight. Studying Don's style changed made me realized a looser style is more fun. To me, a looser feel is more animated.

In my early teens I was mesmerized by what I call "The Big Three".... Larson, Watterson and Breathed. During that time you had the loose, yet intense styling of Gary Larson and his Far Side showing me how to get as much emotion and feeling from a single panel. You had Bill Watterson and his Calvin and Hobbes teaching me that detail is key and expersions and actions can make each panel a scene from a movie. Then you had Berke Breathed's Bloom County. He empowered so many unbelievable abilities. The talent that oozed from his pen and his brain were awe inspiring. I would redrawn his strips frame by frame in notebooks I had scattered about my room. I would write my own Bloom County strips and draw them to entertain my classmates. Berke was one of my biggest influences.

This may sound odd, but in the 90's I embraced another stunning Artist's Style.... Norman Breyfogle who was the artist at the time behind Batman's Detective Comics. His loose style was unheard of for a superhero comic book. I cannot tell you how I felt each month going to Big John's Comics in Pearland each month to get the next issue. Norman was so awesome. Proud to say that I am friends with the legend on Facebook. Not sure if he kows me, but HEY!... He accepted my request and that is good enough for me!!!! lol.....

So, all in all.... What was my favorite comic? This is so tough to be honest. I will have to say my favorite was Bloom County. The latter years of the strip had lost its edge... but the body of Breathed's work as a hole is stunning.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:37AM EST.
Jan 5, 10:05PM EST0

What is the hardest thing about working for a newspaper? If you don’t work for one, what do you think are the challenges of doing things yourself?

Jan 2, 11:37AM EST1

Well, for me there is nothing hard about it. I do not work for the newspaper. I provide a service. Every month, I send a link to a new batch of comic strips. That is it.

I did have one issue with a paper once. I had a gag where Charmy asked for a Big Mac and I was told by the editor that this was a no-no. Due to advertising edicates, the paper cannot look at though they are showing favoritism to anyone with a free plug. Makes perfect sense. Lesson learned. The strip was pulled from circulation and I replaced it with another new strip.

Now, the challenges for doing this myself are getting easier every month. For me, the biggest challenge is the fact that I am my own editor. I produce my strip in stages so I look at each idea weks apart during the stages. I will write strips and not look at the ideas for a few weeks. Sometimes when I look at them again, I have to rewrite them because they do not make as much sense... or no sense at all. After I set up my template up and type everything in, I run spell check and print them out. I wait a few days before I look at them again and sometimes still have issues with the script. Being your own editor is so frustrating... lol....

I have a great online system setup for archiving my comic strips. Once archived, I send a simple link to my newspapers and ask them to send me an email once they retrieve the art. I track their responses in a spreadsheet to insure everyone is good to go.

The newspapers are weekly newspapers, so the workload is easy. The only challenge I can really think of is just managing my strip with my reader's commission requests and my comic con appearances. I stay VERY busy.

Oh! I know a challenge!!! Formatting!!!!! Yes, nearly forgot. So I have one newspaper who prints in black and white. The others do color. Some do the traditional straight lined strip... and some want two over two stacked... so I have to do 4 different formats for each strip!!!!

The one on top is the "stacked" version. The one on the bottom is the "long" version.

Also when I do the black and white version, I have a technique that differs from the way I produce a color strip. Here is an exampl of the same strip, but in black and white...

As you can see, it is a light wash of gray. Black and white papers print on cheap newsprint paper so the color bleeds and cannot take on too much detail. Papers printing in color use a glossy stock which holds color well.

Doing the different versions is a bit of a challenge and very time consuming.

Jan 3, 10:15PM EST0

What is the best advice you can share for a budding comic artist?

Jan 2, 11:30AM EST1

I could give you advice all day long...

1. HAVE FUN - My biggest advice for a budding cartoonist is to have a blast doing what you do. A few years ago I was taking my lack of success too seriously and I was miserable. My first year in Artist's Alley was a disaster. I lost so much money. I was feeling like I was the worst cartoonist in the world and I just could not bring myself to see the truth. I finally told myself that it just does not matter if I ever make money at this. I love drawing this strip and I want to just have fun. Ever since that day, I have never been happier.

2. WORK HARD - Having fun is key, but you have to work hard at this in order for you to feel rewarded. Create a project and see it through... Maybe make a comic book. Push yourself... and have fun. Always remember, you get better every day when you work at it

3. LISTEN TO PEOPLE - Wanna get really good? Listen to people. Even when the are being critical, you are getting amazing advice! I have had my work tore apart limb from limb and I listened. You must have tough skin, lol.... People can be brutal!!!! In my case they were anyways.

I could go on and on if I knew more about what type of art you are doing. Feel free to reach out to me. I love giving advice to budding artists!

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:44AM EST.
Jan 3, 9:50PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

What is our educational background?

Jan 2, 10:11AM EST1

This is a quick response... lol....

I went to The Art Institute of Houston from 1985 - 1987. I studied Visual Communications.

It was a great experience for me. We did a lot of fine art stuff and a ton of life drawings. I was studying to be in advertising a few years before the computer age so we did not get any computer training.

My education pretty much came from experience. 

Now, just because my education sounds like it was  a waste of my time, let me interject. My two years at the Art Institute was amazing. Working on team projects and learning to break the mold of being a kid in high school. 

I am so envious of the education available to kids these day! Please kids, go to college. No shortcuts. Get that degree and LEARN stuff. Become the best you can be before you hit the market and start your career.... and have fun growing up. Fun is key to success in my book.... that and hard work.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:57AM EST.
Jan 3, 9:21PM EST0

Can you tell us your journey, the challenges and experiences you have encountered as an artist and now as somebody who has gotten his way into the newspapers - meaning a successful and professional comic artist.

Jan 2, 10:00AM EST1

I spent a few decades sending in strip submissions to the syndicates. I would send a batch every two - three years and would never hear back. I was working in the toy industry as a graphic designer and I was very happy. My creativity was going to good use. Developing toys and creating the packaging was an amazing experience.

I have been out of that highly creative field for about five years. Once I left, I started hitting my dream hard. I had created Charmy's Army a few years prior to leaving the toy industry. Once I decided to focus more heavily on my cartooning dream, my skill level took off.

Hard work pays off in may ways.

CHALLENGES - The biggest challenge for me is "The Day and Age". Let me explain... I have been told by two syndicates now that if today was twenty five tears ago, Charmy's Army would be snatched up for syndication. I was told this by someone at King Features three years ago and by someone ay Universal UClick. It is a different age now. Iyt is the "Age of Play It Safe". The cost to promote a new strip is beyond the investment any syndicate can afford. There are fewer papers and those papers run fewer strips. The syndicates are not making as much money as they used to. It is a smarter business model to continue the runs of the older comics by using reruns or by hiring new cartoonists to produce the strip once the original creator/producer steps down.

I know it would seem that the way to revigerate the industry would be to update the funnies with new, relatable strips. The issue is that the syndicates cannot afford the risky investment. It is sad, but it is sound business. I cannot argue their point.

SUCCESS - I am currently in three weekly newspapers. That said, I am barely making enough to buy a Starbucks coffee twice a week. That is actually very accurate... sadly. But not THAT sad. I am published and I am very proud of that accomplishment. I search on Google for three papers each week and email the editors my pitch. I never hear back from most.... actually nearly all of them never respond. The one's that do respond, are usually brief and just state they get their strips from a syndicate and do not accept outside work. Out of 600 emails, I have had 3 papers say yes... and that was worth the hours of work.

My advice to anyone wanting to do what I do, produce a comic strip for newspapers, is to work like crazy while ignoring the nay-sayers. 

EXPERIENCES - One of the best moves I made was joining the Texas Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. Because I am published and I had $25 for the dues they let me join. My first experience there was cartooning with Bill Hinds. We were sent out to do free caricatures and we got rained out.... but we got to visit. Getting to meet and know a great cartoonist like Bill has changed my life. It is very wise to surround yourself talent way better than yourself.

That said, one of the main reasons I am doing appearances in Artsit's Alley is so I can be surrounded by artists who make me feel like a talentless fool. Seriously, I am always pitted right next to the best artist in the alley every time. I love it!!!! I study everyone and make some amazing contacts and friends.

FUTURE - I intend to ramp things up. I am going to Kickstart a comic book collection of my strips. I hope to get into a few more newsppaers next year as well. Bottom line is that the harder you work, the more rewarding the triumphs. 

Follow along with me on my comic strip's WEBSITE.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:58AM EST.
Jan 3, 9:06PM EST0

Who was your biggest influence?

Jan 2, 9:49AM EST1

This is the question I was hoping I would get!!!!!

Who is my biggest influence? Oh there are so many. Let's just start naming them and explaining why they were an influence. We will finish the review with my number one pick, which is a no-brainer.

My grandmother would read me the comics when I was 4 and I fell in ove with them.  I knew then I wanted to write and draw them so I studied comics, animated cartoons and all forms of comedy. I was a geeky kid. I could not enough comedies the way others enjyed them becuase I was breaking down the skits. I was looking for a reason gags worked.

As a kid, I was a fan of Peanuts, Henry, Blondie and Ms Peach. I loved the huge heads carried by the cast of Ms Peach. Oh! and Andy Capp. A s a kid I just thought seeing someone drunk was funny. A strip such as that would not make it today. All in all, only one of these strips made an impact.... Peanuts.

Charles M Schulz was a genius. I had paperback collections of every strip he made from the 50's through the early 70's. I read them and studied them. I marveled at his ever developing style for his art and for his writing. I truly believe his best work was during his dark years when he was going through his divorce. All in all, the work of Charles M Schultz was a very important impact on me.

But comics were not my biggest influence. Nope. Vlassic comedies were!

The funniest human to ever appear on the silver screen was Harold Lloyd. I have seen every picture he has made. If you have never seem Kid Brother, you need to look it up. It is amazing, Harold wrote and directed his most famous films. He was a genius and he was a master storyteller back when films were silent. Imagine how hard it is to tell a story when you cannot speak!

Character development is something all cartoonists need to understand. I received a grand education on developing characters from Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brother, The Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello. Out of everyone in that list, The Marx Brothers were the masters. They played different characters with every movie, but the feel of their portrayals were true every time to the base characters established by Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo. That takes a true understanding of your characters and a dedication to fan expectations.

Now, when I was a teenager I discovered Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. Wrong order. First was Saturday Night Live.... and I was not quite a teenager. I would stay up late on Saturday nights and was blessed to be able to watch John Belushi and the early cast make history. The characters they developed were creations who would live on forever. Such amazing talent.

Then one night, Saturday Night Live was over and some guys talking all british were on.  I just discovered Monty Python and my view of comedy changed forever. Monty python was silly... very silly... yet it was so smart. It was intellegent actually.... but so very silly. How can that be? I always thought being silly was not very funny! I slowly discovered more british sitcoms on PBS. All silly but so smart. Brilliantly funny. I discovered "Are You Being Served", "The Goodie", "Doctor in the House", "Benny Hill" and the epic "Fawlty Tours".

Then everything came back to comics. The greatest age of comic strip art began. I discovered The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes and the comic strip that changed my life... Bloom County.

Berke Breathed was an major influence as he taught me what to do correctly and what NOT to do at all. His later years taught me to stick to being fun. Berke's writing was a bit angry in my opinion the last few years. He became political and tried dropping opinions into his work. I vowed never to get political with my work. I just want to make people laugh.

So all in all, these were my major influences on my work.... but none compares to the biggest ifluence on my career.

And we go full circle.... Hoo Hoo.

My grandmother, who I called Hoo Hoo, will always be my biggest influence. She showcaesd every doodle I ever drew for her all over her house. She always told me that I am going to become whatever I want to become. She was always my biggest fan and I owe all this to her. I miss her dearly every day and I am so sad she never saw my comic strip get published.

But you know what? She knew I would make it big. She never had any doubt. I miss her so much and can nevr thank my Hoo Hoo enough for the courage to follow my dream.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:51AM EST.
Jan 2, 11:29PM EST0

What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

Jan 2, 9:16AM EST1

My ultimate goal is simple, to get into enough newspapers... or find some other source of income... so that I can be a cartoonist full time.

If I could work on cartoons 5 days per week.... 40 plus hours per day.... I would be able to produce my strip daily AND knock out a comic book series with ease... plus I would appear at more comic cons across the country, and NOT just here in Texas.

My ultimate goal is to live the dream that I have fantasized over since I was 4 years old.

My secondary goal is to inspire MORE cartoonists to work harder and make this industry awesome yet again. I want the cartooning industry to become the craze I saw make in the early 80's when all of my friends thought the poepl drawing the cartoons in the papers were all rock stars. I want to have the cartoonists become as big as their strips. The syndicates are marketing their comics incorrectly. 

It can and will happen. I see the trend beginning with each comic con I go to. Attendees LOVE to support the REAL DEAL. If you are published, you are treated like a rock star. I am seeing this with my own appearances. Now that I have landed a handful of papers, people want to invest in a print or a few buttons. The big money of course comes in commissions and I am seeing a huge increase in commission work since the big run cranked up last year,

My third goal is to "give back" by supporting charities just like the big time syndicates. I want to visit troops. I want to visit hospitals. I want to thank God for the talents and success he has given me by giving back however I can to as many charaities as I can balance out with my workload and tour schedule.

All in all, I want to make a difference.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:46AM EST.
Jan 2, 10:40PM EST0

What is your day like? Do you follow a certain habit?

Jan 2, 9:07AM EST1

Let me begin by stating, "I have a day job". I do not make a living at this yet. I am no where close to making a living being a cartoonist.

My day begins by waking up and going to my day job as a graphic designer. Blah blah, work work....

LUNCH BREAK! I write comics ever day during my lunch hour!!!

Back to work, blah blah... work work...

TIME TO GO HOME! Once I am there I am doing the following in the evenings...

Mondays - I watch wrestling. Thi si my off day.

Tuesdays - Work on a commission. If I have no commission, I work on a new print or continue working on one.

Wendesdays - Commission or print

Thursdays - Work on my archive collection

Fridays - Work on Archive

WEEKENDS - Work on strips or Appear at a comic con... or work on show prep... and one day a month I do honey do's.

HABITS - I write every day during lunch. It is so important thta I write every day.

To follow my journey and see these daily tasks come to live, checkout my WEBSITE.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:52AM EST.
Jan 2, 9:44PM EST0

How long have you been a comic artist and how can one appear in an Artist's Alley?

Jan 2, 8:23AM EST1

I first decided that I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was four years old. My grandmother read me the Sunday Funnies every week and I knew then that I wanted to be the guy drawing those funny cartoons in the newspaper.

In the third grade, I began drawing funny drawings to make my classmates laugh. To me, I have been a comic artist since I got my first laugh in the third grade.

Professionally, my first published run was 6 years ago when Charmy ran weekly in a newspaper in Nigeria for 8 months... until the paper folded. I feel that was when I became a REAL cartoonist.

By definition, I guess a REAL cartoonist must make a living at this career. If that is the case, I am NOT a real comic artist. I make as much in a year doing this as it costs me to eat breakfast every day. Yeah, I am not making any money to speak of,

I do not believe that money makes the cartoonist. I feel a cartoonist's work makes the cartoonist.

My latest run began three years ago in The Weekly Bulletin covering all of Brazoria County. This run began the closest run I ever had being a real comic srtist. I am very proud of my continuing work with this and all the papers I am in now. In 2018 I hope to had a half dozen more papers to my syndication list.

ARTIST'S ALLEY: I have been doing artist's alley for four years and it is so much fun!

How do you get into artist's alley? Easy! Just buy a table. That is what I do. I find a show that sound fun and I purchase a table from their website. They cost anywhere from $150 to $400. I began with local shows only for two years until I built a following. After two years, I was breaking even at my local shows. Yep, no big money! By year three though I was doubling my investment.

Then I went on the road and lost money... lol.... buty I am returning to the same shows this year and plan on at laest breaking even.

For me, Artist's Alley is all about promoting my comic strip and making art for the attendees. If I break even, I am doing great!

TIP TO SAVE MONEY: Try and grab your table early. A lot of shows have Early Bird specials if you grab a table in the first month or two. After a show is a=over and you've heard it was a good show, follow their website weekly, looking for tables to go up for sale. Some early bird specials are only for returning artists... but most are up for anyone.

There are several people who do very well in Artist's Alley. I hope to be one some day when my comic strip gets bigger, running in more newspapers. Please go in knowing that you must build an audience and it takes time and patience. The experience and contacts you will make will be epic!

To follow my journey, subscribe to my BLOG.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:55AM EST.
Jan 2, 9:32PM EST0

What's the worst thing an artist could do?

Jan 2, 8:10AM EST1

That is a tricky question. I can speak from my own experience though.

The worse thing I ever did as an artist was this.... To think I was going to have a ton of followers and make a living doing what I love. To think that every Comic Con appearance was going to be a goldmine.

I entered a contest years ago with the prize of getting a GoComics developmental deal. It was a ten week contest where the GoComics' judges would eliminate a few strips each week until there was only one winner. I knew this was Charmy's big break! I looked over the competition and knew I was going to win! I was eliminated the first week. I was devistated! I even stopped working on Charmy's Army for 6 months. I was ready to give up on the dream I had since I was 4 years old. Well, I am so glad this occurred because I learned a huge lesson....

You must do this becuase you enjoy it and you cannot do this because you want to be famous. Just do it and have fun.

Once I stopped worrying about whether people liked what I was doing.. or whether I was ever going to succeed, I began enjoying cartooning more than ever.

The worst thing an artist can do is to be full of him or herself.

If you are doing Artist's Alley, be all about the attendees. Do not be all about yourself. When I greet someone looking at my table, I begin by asking, "Are you enjoying the show?" This opens up something special. You have invited them personally into your world by taking an interest in THEIR world. Take time to listen to tem and you will have your shot at making a pitch to someone who is now actually interested in YOU.

Another WORSE thing an artist can do is talk about being an artist all day long and not do any work. Draw every day. EVERY day. Even if it is just a doodle. I doodle all the time.

But the all time worse thing to me still is when an artist cannot enjoy his or her work because they are all caught up in the fact they are not succeeding. Just enjoy what you create. I spent 30 years saddened by my lack of success. Success does not matter. Enjoying your creations is all that matters. Hav  fun and draw.

Follow my work HERE for inspiration!

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:53AM EST.
Jan 2, 8:58PM EST0

Very true, it's often the problem between a job and a hobby, like oil and water, they don't often mix well.

Jan 7, 12:16PM EST0

How many projects are your working on at the moment and can you tell us more about them?

Jan 2, 4:49AM EST0

Keeping up with my newspaper deadlines and with my commission requests.... oh, and my comic con set up... keeps me very busy. But I am working on a few projects.

Project 1: Strip Collection - I am assembling my strips from the newspapers into a comic book. The comic book should be ready by May. I will do a kickstarter for it... my first Kickstarter. I am so afraid of failure, but this fisr comic book will be awesome. I am betting I will reach my campaign goal with ease.

Project 2: Original Comic Book - I am working on three stories. I am not sure which will be the one seeing another kickstarter campaign. Story one is called True Twit and is a western starring Charmy in a solo episode. Story two is the original of French's Warrior Wench Wendy characer and is a solo project for Frenchy. Story three is a murder mystery and ghost story starring the cast.

I really want to work up some submissions for Mad Magazine, My dream as a kid was to have something published in that magazine. In the summer, I plan on working up submissions for Mad Magazine. I had some new characters I want to pitch to them. I cannot talk about this yet becuase I do not want to give out this ideas. I have created something very unique to pitch to the magazine giant.

To keep track of any projects I am working on, follow my blog HERE.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:59AM EST.
Jan 2, 8:38PM EST0

Over the years, how were you able to come up with your characters and can you still recall your very first work?

Jan 2, 2:09AM EST1

I had dreams of grandeur with my previous comic strip, Okrapolis. But after 20 years, the story never grew into the opus I thought it would become. I decided to take a break and work up something so stupid that I would be inspired to return to my comic strip Okrapolis and make it better... fixing whatever was wrong. I just thought a quick break would be the trick. So I set out to create a very bad comic strip.

There I was on my lunch hour, sitting in a dirty Chinese Food restaurant. The wonton soup was cold, The chicken in the Moo Goo was tougher than I felt comfortable ingesting.

I began doodling. I was imagining the kitchen covered in cockroaches... so I set out to draw up a cartoon cockroach who would star in my new comic strip... my anti-masterpiece. What a better start for a horrible comic strip but to have a cast of roaches starring in it?

I drew up the little guy with a dolphin-like bottle nose.... and I really liked it! The only issue was that it did not look like a roach. I found it favored the feel of an ant.... and with a little work, the character took an instant spot in my heart.

Of course, I was not sure if it was love or if it was heartburn from that damn tough chicken poisoning my gut.

Suddenly I had an inspiration. No, it was not the food regurgitating. It was a stroke of brilliance. I added an army helmet and the guy became an Army Ant! I thought he looked quite charming, so I named him Charmy and immediately called the strip Charmy's Amy. It all happened that quickly.

Over the years, this is just how things happen. They just happen.

Frenchy was added after a year of tooling the strip. I felt the story needed a strong female character who was very funny. She is modeled after an old friend of mine from high school. Named after her too. Both are insanely funny and both are extremely strong people.

Weaver is modeled after me. I am the guy who always does good. I have always been the guy keeping my crazy friends from getting in trouble. I love putting myself into my strips like this. It makes it easy to write for the characters I base myself as,

This leads me back to Charmy. Charmy is the giy I always dreamed I could be! I was very shy growing up and I never wanted to get in trouble.... but at the same time, I wanted to be the crazy giy everyone loved and laughed with... the guiy who did not care about getting into trouble. I love Charmy's character. Writing for him makes me happy because I am living out my wild side.

Your second question is awesome! My very first work was in the third grade. My friends created a comic strip called the Munchschins. This was years before The Smurfs, but our little guys were dang near the same concept. The word "munch" was used a lot when they talked. I was working up parodies like Munch Trek, The Brady Munch and I Dream of Munchie. They were tiny little guys who lived in a forest and had crazy adventures. Again, this was maybe 10 years before The Smurfs. And I was in the third grade!!!! We continued the strip until Junior High School but the other two guys did not want to continue with the project so I began work on a few new strips. I wish some of those strips existed still. They had to be terrible!!!!!

To see my comic strips, go HERE.

Here is the VERY FIRST comic strip from Charmy's Army.... It is just TERRIBLE!!!!

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:48AM EST.
Jan 2, 8:20PM EST0
How long does it usually take you to finish a project and do you still have setbacks?
Jan 2, 1:31AM EST1

Each one of my comic strips take an average of 4 - 5 hours to create from start to finish. I work in batches at a time. By working in batches, the "time per strip" is reduced dramatically.Step 1: Writing - It takes about 10 - 15 minutes to come up with a gag and make it work in three to four panels. When I write I also produce a loose storyboard. Max time per strip is about 15 minutes

Step 2: Template - I have a template I use for lettering, I type up the script in a template I create in Photoshop so that I can spell check myself and save time setting up the type's layout. This takes about 15 minutes. I print this out full size. I work at a very larhge scale. My original strips are 18 inches wide!

Step 3: Pencils - I take the printout and sketch my characters into each frame. Once I like the layout and feel of the characters and their positioning in the panels, I tighten up the pencil sketch until the sketch becomes a tight drawing. This takes about an hour per strip per strip.

Step 4: Lettering - Next I take the lettering template with my tight pencil drawings applied and tape it to an 11 x 17 sheet of high quality bristol board. I get out my trusty light table and begin lettering my strip by hand. I do not trace the letters on the template. I have my own lettering style. The template is just for letter placement. Each strip can take up to an hour to hand letter. It all depends on the day.

Step 5: Inking - This part is easy. Each strip takes about 30 - 45 minutes to ink. I am still using the light table. I use the tight pencils to draw in the characters and word balloons. This part is fun.

Step 6: Scanning - Now I scan the art into photoshop. I have some newspapers who want to run the strip in color... and some who want the strip in black and white. Since I have to produce two versions, the coloring step is created digitally. Scanning takes 10 minutes.

Step 7: Coloring / Toning - So now that the art is in Photoshop, I make two layers. Layer 1 is for color and layer 2 is for black and white shades. Color takes up to an hour to color each strip. It is very time consuming. Black and white is quick and only takes about 15 - 20 minutes.

Step 8: Formatting - Now I have to flatten the art and save as jpegs. I also create stacked versions of each because a few papers swap back and forth how they run my strip. They will run it in a long format with the panel running left to right... or they run it "stacked" with two panels on top and two on the bottom. I have to give the papers all options. This takes about 15 minutes per strip.

Step 9: Uploading and Contacting - Last step is to update my Google drive and send the newspapers their link. That takes another 20 - 30 minutes for the batch.... so maybe an avaerage of 5 minutes per strip.

By batching the strips and doing a month at a time, a lot of the work goes incredibly quicker, I hope that answers you question!

To see all of my strips, check out my website HERE.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:54AM EST.
Jan 2, 7:43PM EST0
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