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Alexander Danner

Be Kind, Please Remind

Scott McCloud reminds you it's 24 HOUR COMICS DAY tomorrow. Good luck to all the crazy comicnauts launching tomorrow.

Forbidden Planet reminds you that there's less than a week to the deadline for this year’s Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.  The winner gets £1000 and their four page short published in the Observer Review, while the runner up wins £250 and their work appearing on the Guardian and Vintage websites.

And FLEEN's mention of Alexander Danner's write-up of the recent MICE convention in Boston, MA reminds me I wanted to post a link to it.  So here it is!

Last but not least -- this video should remind you of comics creator Jason Shiga's genius:

Guest Bloggers Week 3

Let me repeat my thanks to all of the guest bloggers for posting so many great posts in my absence.  Thanks to last week's bloggers: Alexander Danner, Brian Moore, John Baird and Max Vaehling.  My biggest regret is that I didn't give them all their own week (if you weren't able to check out the last week flip through the archives for a ton of advice on writing, review and links to great comics).  And one more thanks to the week one bloggers: Ben McCormick, and Amanda & Daniel Potter.

For this week we've got a great group of comic creators and instigators.  They'll all be introducing themselves but here's a brief summary:

Steve Troop is the creator of the comedy sci-fi comic Melonpool and the comic CryptoZooey.  He's been making comics for over 10 years now.  He's also made some excellent puppets and they have appeared in several places including a They Might Be Giants video the Kobe and Lebron MVPuppets commercials.

Sam Costello is the prolific writer and creator behind Split Lip the horror webcomic series.

Harknell and Onezumi are a force to be reckoned with!  Onezumi is a webcomic creator and Harknell is a website coding ninja.  Both are very cool folks and longtime supporters of this site as well as their own webcomic community sites.  We're lucky to have a bit of their time as they are gearing up for the first edition of the convention they've created: Intervention which is coming very soon in September.

Work! A Rant

In the first of his writing advice posts, Alexander Danner quoted a piece of advice aspiring writers often get. I paraphrase instead of looking it up because I've heard it often enough:

"Write every day! Treat it like a job! A job wouldn't allow for exceptions, would it?"

Part of that is useful advice. But it's kind of difficult to separate the crop from the crap. Alexander already said everything you need to hear about the "write every day" part, so I'll concentrate on the job thing.

What makes work a job? As opposed to a hobby? (Apart from pay? 'Cause that would be too easy.) I've been through lots of discussions about what a job is since I finished my studies and didn't seek a paying job right away. What I didn't get from those, I got from magazines targeting frustrated office workers. I think I've heard enough to distill some kind of definition out of what people with a job have to say about jobbing:

  • It's for the money, and for the money only.
  • You work for a boss who doesn't understand you.
  • Customers are idiots.
  • It's stressful.
  • It's eight hours a day. At least.
  • It's unappreciated.
  • It's repetitive rather than creative.
  • Work time is the opposite of spare time.

I could go on, but the canon is clear: A job, to a lot of people, is doing something for money that you despise or at least wouldn't do otherwise, usually in an environment that drains you of your creativity. Of course I'm totally exaggerating and ignoring all the great creative freelance jobs. I'm really after a meme here, rather than a sociological panorama. And the belief is really out there: People have actually told me that labor isn't labor unless it stinks. As opposed to the cool, creative stuff I do, which therefore must be a hobby, and could I please go cut my hair now and get a real job?

So, that's how I should treat my comics work? With despise? I don't think so.

Of course, there's a lot to be said in favor of treating it like a job. Even if you don't actually want to make money with it. If you put in your labor and develop a work ethic, you'll get better at it. And it'll help you evolve from the mind set that claims you're just a hobbyist who won't ever get anywhere with it. Which is the first step in actually becoming a professional. If that's your aim, it's all the more important to treat your comics work like it's a job.

Webcomics That Will Be Ending Soon Roundup

As a fan of comics that tell complete stories with solid conclusions, I tend to believe that the best time to read a webcomic is after it has wrapped up entirely.  With that in mind, here are several very interesting webcomics that will be wrapping up in the foreseeable future, making now a good time to bookmark them.

Even More Continued Introductions

Hello ComixTalk readers—Brian Moore here. Thanks for the invitation to guest blog, Xaviar (and thanks for the kind words re Smithson, Alexander.)  Let me add one link to the bio info posted earlier: my sketchblog, which is the site I most frequently update these days.

Guest Bloggers Week 2

Our esteemed guest bloggers this week are none other than  Brian MooreAlexander Danner, and Max Vaehling.

Brian Moore is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Massachusetts. His artwork has been published in Boston Globe Magazine, the Boston Phoenix, the Lowell Sun, the Middlesex Beat arts magazine,eWEEK magazine, and on various news and arts-focused websites.  He has received two Massachusetts LCC Grants for his animation work, including the animated adventure serial Teddy & Anna. He was the primary artist on the webcomic Smithson from 2005-2008. His portfolio site is at BrianMooreDraws.com.

Alexander Danner has written many short comics, including Web Cartoonist’s Choice Award winners “The Discovery of Spoons” and “Five Ways to Love a Cockroach.” His most recent project, the novella “Gingerbread Houses,” is illustrated by Edward J. Grug III and published at PictureStoryTheater.com. His comics and other writings can be found via his website.  Alexander is also co-author with Steven Withrow of the textbook Character Design for Graphic Novels, and has written numerous articles about comics for the online magazines Comixtalk and The Webcomics Examiner, among others. He teaches Writing the Graphic Novel at Emerson College, in addition to providing guest lectures on comics and graphic novels to various schools and libraries.

Max Vaehling, aka Jaehling, is a German comics creator and self-publisher. His most notable webcomic is Conny Van Ehlsing, Monster Hunter.  In 2000, Vaehling developed his first web site at dreadful-gate.de. His first regular webcomic was terrain vague (2001-2002), an urban fantasy strip based on then-popular myths about street crime and video surveillance.  In 2004, Vaehling developed a new title based on one of Reception Man's supporting characters, Conny Van Ehlsing. The German series Monsterjägerin Conny Van Ehlsing has been online at German web zineLOA since January, 2005. The English translation, Conny Van Ehlsing, Monster Hunter, was first published in early 2007.

Scheduled for the rest of the month are:

August 23rd: Steve Troop, and Sam Costello

August 30th: Brandon Carr, and Scott Story

Guest Bloggers Assemble

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered to do some posting while I'm galavanting around this month!  This week we have three guest bloggers:

Daniel Potter is a mild mannered vascular biology researcher by day and a slightly deranged writer at night.  He blames this unlikely combination on the fact that his right and left brain have filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences and are seeing other people.  Due to the quirks of biology both halves remain in Dan’s head where they are frequently heard shouting at each other by his loving wife. Dan resides in Maastricht, the Netherlands with his wife, two cats, and quarreling gray matter.  To ease tensions Dan has created Walking the Lethe, a comic that asks the question: What happens when you ask a demoness to send you to Heaven?

Amanda Potter is the owner and operator of Fallen Kitten Services and the webmaster for Walking the Lethe.  Amanda is an informational professional (yes, a librarian) who has harbored a not-so-secret love for comics in its various forms ever since reading Asterix and Elfquest as a child. After a long period of “serious” education, Amanda’s husband dragged her across the ocean to the Netherlands where she had no excuse not to pursue a business bringing together a love for comics and a passion for online organization.

Tovias (a.k.a. Ben McCormick) began making webcomics in August of 2003 and made every rookie mistake possible. After six years of attempted webcomic starts and stops, he left his job as a systems engineer and now works full-time on his latest comic, Reality Amuck.  He currently lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife, five kids, two cats, a studio full of comic books and action figures (“THEY’RE NOT DOLLS!”) where he writes and draws webcomics into the wee hours of the night.

Scheduled for the rest of the month are:

August 16th: Brian MooreAlexander Danner, and Max Vaehling

August 23rd: Steve Troop, and Sam Costello

August 30th: Brandon Carr, and Scott Story

A Multiplicity of Minor Milestones

December 10th concludes the third chapter of Gingerbread Houses, and brings to a close the first year of our somber retelling of Grimms’ “Hansel and Gretel.”  Gingerbread Houses will resume regular updates on Thursday, January 7, 2010, with the beginning of Chapter Four.

Past Predictions for Webcomics

I'm hoping to have a roundtable discussion of webcomics in 2009 up on the site later this month, but in the meantime I went back and looked at past ComixTalk roundtables (2007, 2006, 2005) to see how we all did with our predictions for the years to come.  How'd we do?

  • Tom Spurgeon on 2008: A general downturn in the economy combined with the further development of opportunities for traditional media sources on-line is going to have a drastic impact on on-line advertising sales for anyone not aligned with a major company. Tough times ahead. 
  • Heidi MacDonald on 2008: Some smart publisher is going to realize that webcomics are the next Garfield, and make lots of money for everyone. It is inevitable. I'm shocked that no one has been smart enough to see that yet.
  • Michael Rouse-Deane on 2007: I think even more webcomics will venture into animation. I know some of them are dabbling in it at the moment. Also, even more so, webcomics will expand off the web and into print. So webcomics will become offline and animated. I think the next big milestone for a webcomic will be a TV series!
  • Gillead Pellaeon on 2007: Last year I predicted people would be jealous of Tim Buckley and start making their own animations. And it happened. First with Blamimation, then a test episode of a VG Cats series, and now with PvP going to Blind Ferret. I also predicted more books, and that happened too. I didn't foresee Penny Arcade going into video game development, but now that they have, look for others to follow suit (I'm thinking Ctrl+Alt+Del and VG Cats here).
  • Alexander Danner on 2007:  Something I do think we'll see in the coming year is greater cooperation between the various technical service providers. For instance, it would be very lovely if users of WCN could simply click a check box to activate an account with RyanNorth's OhNoRobot transcription and search service. There are a lot of services out there that are wonderful individually, but would be golden in combination.
  • Doctor Setebos on 2006: Mainstream. As broadband creeps slowly into everyone's homes, and online is everything, people will discover the popular webcomics. PvP and Penny Arcade will be on the forefront of the public onslaught. Journalists from respected newspapers and television news magazines will begin to write intelligent and eye-opening articles on webcomics that actually inform the public of this expansive entertainment industry that is growing daily right there on the internet. More services will be created/shifted to provide subscription webcomic content to the droves of readers that will begin to pour onto the webcomics community by next summer. More webcomics will be signed to those subscription services, and fans will cheer wildly as their favorite cartoonists finally reach the "big time".
  • Bob Stevenson on 2006: I spent some time talking with a Nielson executive this fall (the tv ratings folks). He hadn't considered the kind of traffic and market webcomics pull in or more importantly their narrow demographic. I'm not sure I convinced him it was worth any attention, but I'm thinking that some big companies may finally realize there's an underexploited market in the making that's worth throwing some money at. The cost to try something out on a large scale is just too low for someone not to. Sure, we comic creators have talked about how to reach a wider advertising market, but I think services like google adsense and the 360ep signings may have made some of us too passive on that front. Unless our efforts change drastically (they won't), it'll take some of the advertisers coming at webcomics to start realizing the potential on that front. Will it happen in 2006? How much is Rockstar Games paying Tycho and Gabe in 2005?

This Day In ComixTalk: May 15th

A look back at some of the stories we covered from the world of webcomics:

2008
I mused on the future of comics and links to all of the other news I found worth linking to that day - including the conclusion of Evan Dham's Rice Boy.

2007
We had a review of the Paranormals and in award news: Brian Fies won the Blooker Award for Mom's Cancer and Krahulik and Holkins won the UK's Eagle Award for Penny Arcade.

2006
Artist Onezumi commented on the then-in-the-news Brownstein/Soma story, ByrobotDotNet started up, we updated the list of surviving contestants to the Daily Grind contest (as of 2009 there are still 8 surviving contestants listed - I wonder if anyone is still tracking this?) and links to all of the other news I found worth linking to that day.

2005
David "Shortpacked" Willis announced he was leaving Keenspot.
The 2nd week of our May magazine update went up: a review of Spamusement, an interview with J. Grant and Mel Hynes of Two Lumps, Alexander Danner's guide to collaboration, a new column from Eric Burns, and a new Welton Colbert comic from Ryan Estrada.

2004
The 2nd week of our May magazine update went up: with a review of Spark Needle and an interview with Gilda Rimessi of The Sinner Dragon as well as columns from Frank "Damonk" Cormier and Jim Zubkavish.  We also had a look at the history of comics syndication.

2003
Eat the Roses by Meaghan Quinn turned 3 years old (I think the last time this was updated was in 2006).
Nominations for the 3rd edition of the WCCAs were almost due.