When I began planning to create a web comic, one of the early style decisions I had to address was whether or not I wanted to do a black and white “classical newspaper” look or whether I wanted to go to full color. My background and love of animated cartoons helped me to lean toward full on color. In cartoon making, color is an integral component used for setting the mood, so to just do a black and white comic strip seemed, to me, to be very limiting. The trade off being a significant amount of additional work in producing each strip, which is no trivial matter when working on a tight schedule and with frequent deadlines. But I felt that colorful mood setting panels would be a huge plus for my storytelling. An important creative note is that if your comic strip idea is more of a random gag per strip and not a mixture of humor and story, then you might not find setting a visual mood to be that significant.
Bug Pudding is a satire and an adventure. Early on as I began to introduce the characters and the world of Tuberville Georgia, I wanted to present a very colorful and “fantasy-like” rural atmosphere.
As the story has progressed, the atmosphere of the strip has been gradually shifting to foreshadow the changing mood. It was still bright and sunny but occasionally a subtle change was injected.
The blue skies still prevail but the other background colors began to be muted. Even the grass started to turn more toward warmer shades.
Then as I began the more mysterious part of the adventure as Monroe stumbles into the Beauregard Bug Bombs testing range, a more pronounced mood shift has begun.
The fantasy world also has a more Gothic and malevolent side which is set up by the purple vapor clouds and the darker lighting of recent strips.
It’s a pastoral fantasy world moving into a direct collision course with a more veiled and threatening world of evil; all being reflected in the colorful mood setting backgrounds. Yes, adding color to a comic strip is a lot of extra work but it adds a lot dimensionally to the cartoonist’s tool set.
I just updated the Bug Pudding comic site with an improved look and a new top banner. Part of publishing a comic on the web is constructing and maintaining your publishing platform. For many people this is a difficult task due to the “roll your own” aspect of customizing a website. I use a plug-in called Webcomic as the backbone of my site and a theme called Inkblot. To get a good idea of how these components work together here are some great video tutorials. A special thanks goes out to Michael Sisk the creator of Webcomic and Inkblot for all his patience and helpful support.
More on setting up and customizing a comic website in future articles.
One of my favorite forms of humor is slapstick. A comic strip, like Bug Pudding, explores humorous situations and certainly plays around with words to create both humor and extra meaning, but occasionally all heck breaks loose and it just gets visually funny. Here are a couple of recent panels:
In this first example Monroe, a turtle who has experienced a lot since he lost his shell to climate change, is losing it after inhaling strange vapors and turning orange. It’s a “Hulk-A-Maniac” moment with a full on “choke slam” ala the WWE.
In this second example, Agile has given Monroe a gift of a replacement shell made from a pumpkin. And we get to enjoy the road rage that follows as Monroe wants to show his “appreciation” by ringing Agile’s neck.
For a cartoonist, some of the most enjoyable moments in drawing a comic strip come from doing the slapstick panels.
One of the best parts of drawing a comic strip is doing panels that are just plain visual fun. I particularly enjoy drawing action poses or “in your face” poses. Here are a couple examples from a recent Bug Pudding strip.
This was a really interesting sketch to draw. I wanted to capture as much of the explosive action as possible when Monroe leaps screaming from the trash can after becoming the main snack at the Flea Brothers impromptu party. And also capture his out right shock and terror at being their munch food.
I’m not totally happy with this rendering of the Flea Brothers, but I always have to remind myself that characters which I haven’t drawn many times before never look as good as they will after I really get more familiar drawing them. Character design is an evolutionary process. In this case this was a really early interpretation in their evolutionary design cycle. A lot more repetition in drawing them is in order.
Coming up with a concept for a comic strip is an interesting process and I’ll be discussing some of that here on the Bristol Board and Ink blog. Today’s post is intended to give you some insight into the naming process for a comic. It certainly is not a formula or a science, but rather just an exercise in brainstorming. I had input from several cartoonist friends who were kind enough to allow me to bounce ideas around with them and provided me with thoughts of their own.
In my mind, potential titles for my comic had to meet several important benchmarks to be in the running for consideration. Not the least of which was that the URL for the domain had to be available. My criteria for candidates were, and not necessarily in this order, the name had to fit the concept of the strip, the URL had to be available.( It should show early in an alphabetical list of comics: meaning it needed to start with a letter like a, b, or c. It helps in web comic lists if your comic name isn’t buried in the pack too deeply.) It had to be easy to remember and really easy to spell. (you want someone who hears the name or sees the name to be able to type it into Google or their browser easily).
In my case, the comic concept was about life in a community of critters, bugs and plants and their interactions and experiences. So here is the list of potential candidate names which finally got me to BugPudding.
As part of the layout process for my comic strip, Bug Pudding, I make character pose sketches. I work both traditionally with pencil and paper as well as digitally using SketchBook Pro, Illustrator, and Photoshop. (more on the process steps in future posts). Here are some recent sketches for the strip. These were drawn on paper and scanned into the computer. I typically rough sketch in non-photo blue and clean up using a darker color either blue, green or red. Additional clean up and adjustments are made during the inking phase in Illustrator.
This is my first post on this new blog. If you are currently doing a web comic or thinking that you might want to do a web comic, then you should find this blog interesting. I started out over a year ago with the idea that I wanted to create a comic strip for publication on the Internet. It took me a long time to make that happen. I’ll use this blog space to chronicle my experiences and hopefully you can learn from them and benefit. And it will also provide a place to exchange thoughts and ideas on the subject too. The most important thing that anyone planning to start a comic needs to realize, no matter what form or style, is that it is a significant commitment. If you are going to publish your work and attract and retain readers you have to produce your comic on a recognized regular schedule. And that means deadlines and commitments become a way of life.