Throwback Thursday! Crows Be Prepared

July 22, 2021
Crows prepare for the end of the world.

Happy Throwback Thursday! This weeks art from the archives is Crows Be Prepared, an evergreen story I feel is just as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. Mostly I just wanted to draw a crow in an army helmet. Mission accomplished!

Time for a Back Pat

July 20, 2021
Illustration of a man wearing glasses, with a brightly coloured something blasting through his head. There is a large smile painted on his face.

Let’s talk about that thing you’re working on.

I know it’s been hard finding time to work on it. Time of any meaningful length is a unicorn. Family, responsibilities, work, chores, everything. But you found time.

Between tasks at work, on the bus commute, before bed, or before breakfast.

Instead of spending an hour endlessly scrolling through social media.

Here and there.

You penny-jarred the hell out of your thing. And now it’s done.

Sure, there were challenges. The kids took your thing-space for home schooling. Finicky tools. The internet is a fun-house mirror.

But they are all in the past.

You took what was a passing electrical spark in your brain, and turned it into something tangible. That’s amazing. Good work.

And now, it’s time for the next thing. It will be even better than your last thing.

I can’t wait to see it.

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Throwback Thursday! Crows and the Zika Virus

July 15, 2021

It’s Throwback Thursday at Survival Anxiety Comics! Remember the Zika Virus? The Crows remember in this week’s archive gem Crows and the Zika Virus.

The Zika epidemic was a hot news item in 2016, and mosquitoes got most of the (deserved) flak for spreading it. The Zika virus was a big concern for pregnant women, who could pass it on to their fetus, potentially causing brain anomalies. Adults could suffer rapid muscle weakness. There was also concern for the athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Simpler times, am I right? Mosquitoes ruin every party.

When working on the character design for the crows, I had envisioned one crow to be kind of dumb, while the other was smart. It’s a common setup. I got bored with it. The smart one became kind of condescending, at least in my mind. I wondered why they would even be hanging out together if that was their dynamic. The crows are supposed to be friends, with differing points of view and experiences. So I eventually eased off on dumb vs smart characteristics, and in more recent comics especially, they compliment each other better. I feel like they’re becoming a bit more like an avian Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. Judgemental about human behaviour, but certainly not without their own flaws.

I used Clip Studio Paint for this comic, although I think it was called Manga Studio 2016. I’m going to stop saying that every time I mention Clip Studio Paint. A comic lettering process I used at the time was to lay out all the dialog text with the Text Tool, then I traced the letter characters with a lettering brush. Something akin to a tech pen. I still use this process for digital illustrations. It feels a bit mechanical here, because I was just figuring it out. The goal was to have comic lettering that visually fit with the cartoon art, and was more unique than a comic lettering font. And tidy. Very tidy lettering.

Of course, today I hand letter all my comics, and it’s a glorious mess, but that’s a blog post for another time.

Thanks for reading!

Making Comics – Graphite Pencils, Blue Pencils, Get Yer Own Pencils

July 13, 2021
Pencils for Pity Party Page 4.

Pity Party – Page 4 is well under way. The pencils are done, and I’ll start inks tomorrow. The Ideas Room is about to get a bit more dangerous, as some old and bitter ideas are released! Yikes! Be careful what you think.

My pencils are a mess, but I don’t like to think too much when I start inking. I want all the visual math to be sorted out in pencil. I have a rough version of this page sketched on a comic template I print on letter sized paper. I copy that sketch onto bristol, add all the missing detail, sleep on it, add some more detail, line up the lettering, sleep on it some more, then boom! Ready for ink. Comics are easy!

I pencil with 4H graphite in an old mechanical pencil. It’s a very light line. I darkened this image in Affinity Photo so you could actually see the pencil. I prefer a harder graphite for this stage – there is less smudging, and it erases easily. For lettering I pencil with non photo blue, also in a mechanical pencil. The ink I use for lettering fades too much when an eraser is applied, and non photo blue pencil doesn’t need to be erased. I could just use non photo blue for all the lines, but I do a lot of thinking in pencil, and blue is harder to erase. You can probably see that in this scan. It would just be a blue page. Like looking at a summer sky.

If you aren’t familiar with non photo blue pencils, the primary benefit of them is they won’t be seen by the scanner, when scanning line art in black & white. After scanning the artwork, I apply a threshold adjustment layer in Affinity Photo. This effectively removes any line lighter than the black ink lines – so I don’t have to spend much time erasing graphite lines before scanning, either.

This Thursday is another Throwback! See you then!

Paint, Wallpaper, Website Banners

July 6, 2021

I’ve been working on the website lately, intending to improve the SEO. Ugh. I’ve been trying to improve the load time by optimizing images and code, and organizing the comic art and blog posts better. A secondary effect of this effort is that it’s focusing the website on the important bits, which is honestly just better for everyone concerned.

I use WordPress, and I designed my own basic theme a while ago. It’s dirt simple, no bell, no whistles, but I try to slowly improve it over time. Coding a website to me is like KFC – I really want it until I’m elbow deep in it, then I never want to see it again. Repeat annually.

Anyway, a sudden burst of this website improvement lead me to (finally) design a set of banner illustrations. I had created the Survival Anxiety Comics logo a while ago, but it wasn’t until last week I (finally) incorporated it into a set of banners.

I was going to draw new illustration art for the banner, but that requires time and effort. So I thought a simpler idea would be to reuse existing comic art. I could take close crops of the high resolution versions of the art, then apply a nice colour overlay to force the usually black line art to sit behind the logo. The illustration could become textural.

When I started looking through the Survival Anxiety Comics archive, I had trouble choosing one image. So the internet taught me how to make several images appear randomly when the page loads. And now I have not 1, but 10 banner images! Too many? Shut your mouth.

Here are 5 of them:

Robot and Francis the Sheep floating through space on a rock head.
A storm rages, hurling water and fish through the forest.
A brick wall, with part of a comedy venue poster.
Robot and Francis the Sheep blow up mutant snow zombies with unstable laser weapons.
The city, the suburbs, the country.

If you want to see the rest of the banners, I suggest you peruse the site a bit.

The rotation of unique banner illustrations adds a bit of life to the site. Probably has zero effect on SEO, but definitely improves the visual experience, and that’s not nothing.

New comic on Thursday! See you then!