It Starts.

Atypical of me, I will not use this time to decry the horrible nature of the art in the first strip. I will just do better next time.

And so it begins. I've always, always, ALWAYS threatened/promised/yearned to do a comic strip but I've never really put much effort into developing a good bunch of characters. I'm sure they will change over time but it's better to get it started and make it work than sit on it and wonder what would have happened.

Updated Tuesdays and Fridays. I hope you enjoy it.

Carry on.

LOLcats #200

Adam Koford has put his Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #200 up for bid over on eBay. I've been bidding on it but I'm instantly out bid so someone really wants it. Last I checked it was up to $56 but don't be surprised that it hits $200 or more, especially if it gets listed on Boing Boing or Fark.

Go bid, see if you can get a great piece of art that's also a time capsule of internet meme glory.


Long Weekend

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
So Mrs. A is going to Louisiana to get some AP shots and visit some folks she knows so I get the kids till Monday night. That's right, four full days of me and the offspring.

So my first act as reliable dad/husband is to sprain my ankle playing basketball. I play at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I was just getting back into it after the last time I rolled my fool ankle. I'm super pissed. Playing ball is the one activity I don't think of as working out. I don't think of it as a chore and thus would do it every day if I could and it would undoubtedly be very good for me.

And it's not like I have weak ankles either. In fact, the last time I did this I was able to play another 30 minutes on a swollen ankle before finally giving in. They are hearty stems, I just have bad luck stepping on people's feet. I need better shoes I think.

Any crap, so at least tomorrow I'll be perched in my sittin' chair with this thing propped up just like you see it now, all nestled in Mrs. A's old CryoCuff, the thing she had when her ACL blew. It's a neat contraption. It's basically a two gallon container, like a water jug, with a hose at the bottom. The hose has clip valves and you put the other end in a knee brace that has a bladder. You fill the jug up with ice and a bit of water and then let it drain into the cuff. When the water isn't cold, you let it drain back into the jug to cool off with the ice, rinse and repeat. It's a site better than holding ice cubes in a washrag.

Now my problem is, I had a ton of work I wanted to do this weekend but I'm not sure I'll even be able to draw much as the drawing table is upstairs. I wanted to do LIA strips, robot portraits, more 700 robots and a flushmount for Mrs. A. Well, I've got four days. Bets on what I get done?

Carry on.


Core Ideals

If I were a politician, one of my absolute beliefs would be that a woman has the right to breast feed a baby anywhere and any time she choses. It's one of the things that truly gets on my last nerve to hear about establishments that go against their corporate policy and ask that mothers should cover themselves or the baby when they breast feed.

Her lawyer wrote a letter to Thomas & King, the company that operates Applebee's in Central Kentucky. They got no response. After a second letter, a Thomas & King lawyer said the restaurant chain would consider keeping blankets in the restaurant so that breast-feeding women could cover themselves.
The analogy used in the article was, "That's like telling Rosa Parks she still had to sit in the back of the bus, but we'll give her a blanket to make her more comfortable." It's more like telling her she can sit in the front, but she has to wear a mask and gloves so people can't see she's black. And it's probably not a good idea for a white woman to compare themselves to Rosa Parks - as a country we're not totally segregated yet.

What gets me is how puritan we are as Americans, and I've beat this dead horse before. We've stigmatized and demonized breasts and nudity and sex to the point of sickness. The naked body is not evil. It's not a bad thing. I'm all in favor of decency - I don't need to see wangs and chungs scurrying around 24/7, but if a woman has to pop a tit to feed an infant I say let her. It's only distracting if you look directly at it, and if you're looking directly at it you're being lecherous and if you're being lecherous it's your own damn fault for having your sexual nature repressed. Don't blame a hungry baby because of your own puerile and ignorant inadequacies. I'd rather see 1,000 flushed and flustered prudes than 1 hungry kid.

Here's more fuel to the fire; this is an American problem. Well, almost. I've found it's an English-speaking world problem. Which makes sense. A lot of the ideas we get about shame, purity, sex and modesty came from England. In the end, people came to America not because they were religious radicals in the stereotypical sense of the word, but because they were puritans. The English were heathens compared to our forefathers and we tend to believe it the reverse, that the Pilgrims were somehow these wildchilds (wildchildren?) and were loose and lively and liberated. Not so.

However, the UK (including Scotland and Ireland) are just as repressed about women and their dual role as provider and companion as we are in the States. Countries like France, Germany, Italy seem to be more open to the idea, dare I say enlightened. People are confused when they are asked if it's ok to breast feed. Why wouldn't YOU feed YOUR baby? I don't know much about African, Latin, Middle Eastern or Asian sensibilities. Perhaps a reader could leave a comment about how breast feeding is appreciated or scorned in India or South Korea or Brazil or Israel. That would be positively worldly of you.

Mrs. A hasn't breast feed in over two years but the issue is still strong with me and the reason is the only people hurt by it are babies. Nature built mammals to feed their young and decency be damned. If babies weren't meant to be fed by a mother's breast, they would have been born in eggs and left to fend for themselves. Don't deny a baby the right to eat because you can't handle seeing a nipple. That's your problem, not the baby's. If a nipple makes you uncomfortable, YOU put a blanket over YOUR head. To me, you are the freak.

Carry on.

Oh yeah, I'm still planning on doing LIA strips. I've got a little notebook full of them that just have to get drawn. But I realized two things. Things are changing around the Austin household that could affect the characters, as they are based off our family. I'd better really like the characters because of something happens, I'd have to kill one of them off like in a soap opera. The other thing is, I'm still waiting to get a good scanner and the size I want to draw these so it's easy for me to do is bigger than the little scanner we have. So process and permanence are stalling my brain. I'm sure something will break through here soon.


Thumbs up for school!

Thumbs up for school!
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Today is LMA's first day of first grade.

The school was crowded as parents flooded the miniature parking lot. There was apparently a meet and greet for parents and kids and teachers some time last week but it was at 3pm and there's no way I'd have made it and no one told us about it anyway.

It was strange. After we registered, they didn't send us home with any information, nothing came in the mail, we didn't get a phone call. Nothing saying, "And there will be an introductory meeting on August whatever to meet the teacher, see your room, learn the rules, etc." We just showed up and there's a list on the door with the kids names and their teacher.

So we drop LMA off at her class. G-man is with us. She doesn't want to go in because everyone is already there. G-man doesn't want her to leave and he wants to go play on the playground. Mrs. A is crying - as to be expected. And of course I wasn't allowed to talk or touch her or she'd cry more. (In all honesty, I'm not allowed to do that anyway, but this time she had a good reason.)

But LMA settled down, backpack and all and last I saw her she was coloring. I hope she has a good day.

Carry on.


End of Summer

Slumber Burrito
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Well, there are officially two days left of Summer Vacation. Lil Miss Austin starts 1st grade on Tuesday. This was Friday night. I let her stay up with me on the weekends. Most of the time I'm watching movies or drawing and she watches cartoons or plays her games online. We were watching Futurama till about 12:30. She didn't quite make it.

Yesterday I played football for the first time in probably 10 years. During the week I take my lunch hours every other day to drive over to Mrs. Austin's brother's office to play basketball with him and his coworkers. They decided to try football on the weekend so I drove out to Cedar Park to play.

Man am I old.

Shortly before I left, I squatted down to talk to G-man about something and I "messed up" my knee. I didn't think about it until I got to the high school and got out of the car and had to limp over to the field. Well, I didn't want to bail because it was pretty sad that I drive all that way and then not be able to play, so I was quarterback for the first few plays until my knee loosened up. It never really did.

So I gimped around as best I could. I could run full out with no problem, but it was the slow runs I had a problem with. I ended up scoring a couple touchdowns and getting an interception and throwing a touch down or two, but there's no glory in coming home beat like a prisoner of war. It was good exercise, that's for sure. It just reiterates the fact that I'm not young enough or in shape enough to do that very often. I'm hoping if I do basketball and this, maybe, three times a week it'll start being more effective and won't leave me laid up for two days icing joints and taking ibuprofen.

Plus, it's Texas in August, so it was 137°. I'm sure the headache I had was a bit of sunstroke.

Yeah I do this for fun.

So the rest of the day I had planned to draw and get some robots done and my LIA strips, but I was mostly hobbling around the house grumbling silently and trying to keep the kids off my knee.

Good times. Carry on.


Seen over on Boing Boing. Glorifying Terrorism is an anthology from the UK of short sci-fi stories that...well...glorify terrorism. The book has been outlawed (and so has subsequently become hugely popular and sold out) because it violates the 2006 Terrorism Act.

If you don't have a copy of the book, you can hear one of the stories, The Sundial Brigade, read on Escape Pod.

Now, I'm not posting this because I'm a malcontent or anything. I'm just curious as to why the cover art is so horribly bad. You'd think something as controversial as a book decrying the merits of blowing yourself and other people to bits would have a better piece of art. This looks like a high school kid drew it.

I don't know. It doesn't make too worried about any uprisings when the art they use is so amateurish. Can the writing inside it be any better? Is the cause for alarm really that necessary? I realize judging a book by its cover is the base reason there's conflict between the West and the MidEast, but this books cover is crap. It's as if the authors got a hit on craigslist for their ad needing an artist. You know the ones: Can't pay up front, proceeds of the book, looking for someone in college, boost your portfolio, must work on spec, etc.

That explains it. Nevermind.


Robot Drawing News

The folks at Robogames.net were pretty happy with their drawings. I'm glad people like them as I have a good time doing them. They take about 20 mins to draw and about an hour to get online and into a video so that's a good block of time I can set aside for myself. I put my head phones on or have a bad old movie playing on TCM. It's nice.

Last night after that article was posted I got another order from some folks working with real robots at MIT. (I'm guessing it's MIT, that's what the email address said.) Anyway, the client says they work on writing algorithms for grasping to be used on a Barrett Arm. The Barrett Arm (or Barrent WAM) is a commercially available arm used in space exploration, manufacturing and surgical applications.

I should say that robots built for art and sport are no less real than those built for moon rovers or brain surgery. Both require a level of skill and talent that I don't have. So I draw cartoons about them.

Their robot's name is Lludd, after a Welsh folk hero who lost his arm in battle and had it replaced by a silver one.

I know you can't see me, but I did a happy dance when I got the email. I know it's not like they wanted to pay me tons of money, but the idea that someone working with robots wanted one somehow makes it all worth while. Between that and the Robogames folks, I think there's a niche.

Carry on.


Three Robots and a Zebra

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Mrs. A took the kids to the Wildlife Safari yesterday. I don't know how many of you remember the last time the family went there, but it involved an aggressive zebra and lots of crying.

Funny thing, it happened again. This time, the zebras not only ate a whole bag of food, but they also got Lil Miss Austin's dress and the steering wheel.

Also, there's a hilarious sequence of pictures from before they even arrived. It's the first 5 or 6 in the set, you have to see them in order. G-man is an hysterical dude.

While they were gone I was able to knock out some artwork for the commission I got for the Robowars people. I think they turned out pretty well.

Carry on.


New Products

There was a request for tote bags and mugs. When I have more promotional images, I'll make more shirts and mugs and postcards. If you, fine reader, want something specific just let me know and I'll set it up.

create & buy custom products at Zazzle


Comic Updates

So I think I've got the toon thing figured out. Comicspace has a feature called Tooncasting in which you can upload pictures to a gallery and if you have Tooncasting enabled, it generates some java script that people can use to display the strip on their site. I tweaked my Blogger site here to include an element at the top of the page. As soon as I have some strips to work with, and I can upload them to Comicspace, I can put my own code into that element. The cool thing is I can set them to show up at a certain date. So let's say I plan on updating every Tuesday and Friday, but I get a bunch done at once. I can upload them and say not to make it available until later, almost ensuring I'll update when I say I will.

I'm excited.

Another bit of exciting news is I got an order for three robots from RoboGames, formerly the ROBOlympics or The Robot Society of America. It's a pretty big thing for robot designers - I believe a lot of Battle Bot guys came from this group. I hope they like the drawings and maybe more people will see them and want one for themselves. That also means I have to get cracking. They don't take long to draw (about 20 minutes) but I want to again do videos and that takes a bit of time.

Carry on.


Life In Austin

Life In Austin
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Ok, so I'm going to be playing with the site a lot. I've got an idea on how I want to draw the strip and rather than make the strip fit the site, I'd rather make it easier on myself in the long run but making the site fit the strip. So, the current theme will probably be changed a lot. It'll all be running on Blogger so I'm constrained to their archiving and labeling and stuff. We'll just have to see how it works. I'd like to be able to have the strip be separate from the blog, but I don't know if that's possible.

I've done a couple already and I think I'll be able to do this twice a week. Let's see how long it goes on.

Carry on, smartly.


Life In Austin Promo

Life In Austin Promo
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Ok, so I cheated a bit by using the Simpsonize Me thing to make the me version, but I thought it'd be funny.

So yeah, I'm doing some character sketches now and a few starter strips for a comic called, naturally, Life In Austin. It's about a freelance artist and his family which includes a robot he bought to help around the house as well as guests from other net memes. You should start seeing these soon.


This doesn't look good at all.

Wizard World 2007

Originally uploaded by jeremydale.
This is a shot of my buddies Jeremy Dale, Loston Wallace and Nate Lovett at this year's Wizard World Chicago comic convention.

I've only been to two Chicago cons and two San Diego cons in my life. I've been to another smattering of small press expos, local sci-fi conventions and art fairs. Conventions are a weird animal for me. I like these guys and the other folks I've known for a few years like Shane Peters and Dash Martin, but I've always felt like an outsider because I wasn't that into comics.

By "into" comics I mean steeped. Starting from even my early days back in college of collecting comics, it was superficial at best. I'm the same age as these guys (older that most actually) but I didn't grow up on comics books like they did. Loston especially has this knowledge of comic lore and creator history that needs to be bottled and archived at the Smithsonian. And all of them want to be, and for the most part are, comic book artists. Dash, Jeremy, Nate and Shane all got call backs from Marvel or DC this past weekend. They've been doing their own books or indie press books for some time now, but there's a good chance that most of them will be doing work for the big two very soon.

I'm proud of them, but I'm also a bit sad. I'd like to go back to Chicago (yes honey, alone) but it would be solely to hang out with these guys and that's an expensive weekend just to see some people you only know from the internet. I don't know what to do with my art lately, but it hasn't been comic books. I don't have the time any more to do anything that extensive and I can feel another wave of people leaving me behind as I sit at work doodling.

As I look back to the last time I went, 2005, I was surprised how much I actually didn't like being there. I liked talking with and hanging out with these guys, but the rest of it seemed like a haze or a fitful dream. I mean, I know I'm a bit of a geek, but the people there were uber-geeks and I can't tell even now if I was sad for them or jealous of them. They were in their element and I wasn't, I was trying really hard to be included and it didn't work.

Jeremy works very hard at what he does. He's like any of the other artists I admire. He draws for 17 hours a day. It's how he makes a living. He draws commissions for people and works on licensed projects for retailers. He just worked on a project for a GI Joe toy line that will be released with a comic book that has circulation 5x that of just a regular title. It was good money and it got him visibility. Loston's doing much of the same work for DC, some licensed projects. Shane and Dash have been stalwart Image padewans for years and Nate has his own comic, Xombie, already out.

These guys have really made it.

You'll notice I'm a little angry about it. We all didn't start drawing together, we weren't in school together or anything, but especially Jeremy and Dash and Shane I've known for years. I've know that they weren't always good. They had to learn and get better and hone their skills, just like anyone. Back in the day I would have considered myself a decent, comparable artist. I would have even said I was as good or better than these guys - at the time. There were things I was doing that were different and I thought more artistically challenging but it was all in the name of being seen as a comic book artist.

The trouble was, I made different choices. I won't say "wrong" choices, but I made different choices and at some point I didn't make any choices at all, I just let people decide for me. Instead of going to San Diego for a third time I came to visit my soon to be wife in Texas. Instead of pushing hard to get on with a local Houston comic company I spent time playing video games with a bunch techs at a day trading company. I had a window of opportunity somewhere around 1999-2000 where I could have said, "I'm going to be a comic book artist and I'll work my ass off and hope it starts paying the bills."

But I didn't. You know why? Because it would have not paid the bills. The job I had at the time was brainless and tumultuous but it was good money. We lived in Houston and we had only one car and we had to pay for it and rent and if I'd have chosen "artist" over "IT monkey" I don't think we would have made it. It's no one's fault either, it's just the way it happened.

Then we moved to Austin and I had another small window of opportunity before our firstborn came along. We'd moved out because I got a job offer (doing more tech support) and Mrs. A got on with Dell. We were making decent money and I actually had a plan that if Mrs. A moved up in the company enough and made a decent wage, I could quit and focus on art. Well, that never came. She became really disillusioned with Dell and sales in general and she'd eventually quit. Between maternity leaves and layoffs in which she'd watch entire teams dissolve around her, it was only a matter of time before she grew tired of the crap and had to get out. Luckily she had her photography.

And that's where we are today. As of now, Mrs. A works 5 jobs, all having to do with her photography. She works her ass off and barely makes enough to pay bills. Her latest job should pay decently enough that she can not work as hard, but with having the kids with her all day (the 6th job) it's a wonder she can do anything. I'm just as envious of her as I am of my comic buddies. I don't know what drive they have to take that chance and say damn the torpedoes, but I don't have it - and if I did it's gone.

I've found a good niche for now I suppose. Cartooning is a good way to get something done that doesn't take a lot of time. Lettering a comic book is nice in that it makes it finally look like a comic book page, but it doesn't take long to do and doesn't require much effort. I've been able to get some commissions and hopefully that will lead to more, but there will be a critical mass where I can't squeeze anything into my day any more. I can't bring a giant drawing board and a bunch of tools to work and spend 10 hours drawing in order to get these fantastic pages done. Nor can I do 20 cartoons in a single sitting. It's frustrating but in the end I have to look out for more people than just me. If I were single or childless it might be different. Mrs. A and I could live in a hovel and still be ok. With all her work she's hardly home anyway. But until the kids are older, I have to make sure their needs are met first and if that means sacrificing my happiness, then so be it.

The high point of my artistic "career" as been self publishing a half-assed drawn comic book. It was lettered in Flash and I spent $400 getting 100 copies of which I sold maybe 10 and gave away close to 50. It's odd that given that's the best I've been able to do, I don't know that I'd want to do it again. So what else is there?

Carry on.


Enough Already

Air Supply
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
We decided to go out to see Mrs. A's sister and her family after all. We really like going out there but our illness was keeping us from thinking we were actually going.

Some time late Friday night or early Saturday morning we bit the bullet and packed the kids and drove out. It wasn't a bad drive, but it was long. Sitting in a car for almost four hours while you're sick makes it seem twice as long. You can't get comfortable and the task of keeping two young kids in check and happy is draining.

But we made it and it was a fairly good time. I didn't get nearly as drunk as I wanted. It was Mrs. A's birthday weekend so they had a cake and we had lots of wine and beer. The kids played like unleashed banshees. And there was a puppy involved.

The low point for me came early in the reverie. I was sent on run to the convenience store shortly after we arrived. I started coughing a bit on the way over, then more as I was checking out, then really bad back in the car. I had such a coughing fit that I threw up all over myself. I hadn't been drinking, I wasn't nauseated, I had just coughed so hard my gullet couldn't handle it. That was fun. I had to go back and change clothes and explain what happened. Even though I wasn't sick before, afterward my stomach was touch and go. I couldn't drink any alcohol and even food was a problem. Plus I think I have a tumor behind my right eyebrow or just a very problematic sinus cavity and it flared up nicely.

Mrs. A didn't have any problems. She was having a blast. There was a dogpile involving her, three small kids and a puppy. She wore some kind of Seussian antlers and she had to blow out trick candles. She took a lot of pictures, laughed, danced and just enjoyed being around her people.

And as always we were stupid and decided to drive home at 2am. Every time we go see her sister, we always get out there late and end up not staying as long as we should. It makes them feel bad and us feel worse. I think ideally we'd like to drive out first thing Saturday morning or even Friday night and then either get a cheap close hotel or just crash at their place until Sunday evening. This time, however, we just weren't feeling well enough to prolong the fun. We'd tried to have all the kids go to bed on palettes, but they outlasted our attempts and dug deep into reserves of childhood energy. The eldest girl actually slept for a couple hours and was really upset when she woke back up and found out we were leaving. She's totally cool, they all are.

As of this writing, both Mrs. A and I are still unwillingly clinging to our varied and persistent symptoms. We got home about 5 am and she and Lil Miss Austin slept till almost 11. G-Man tried to wake up at 7 and I had to march him, bleary-eyed and grumbling (me not him) back to his bed. We each got a couple more hours of fitful sleep but then he was up for good by 9.

Everyone tried to nap off an on during the day and the sniffles returned and the coughing returned and the headaches and painful joints returned. The kids seem fine, but Mrs. A and I have resentful adult bodies that just seem happier when they are only half-assed fighting an infection. We're so loaded up on medicine it's a wonder we're able to drive.

My ribs hurt from coughing.

We're going back out to Houston in a couple weeks I'm sure to try again. I seriously hope we're done with this gunk by then. My friend Len over at Jawbone knows what I'm talking about. He's been dealing with the "tail end" of a cold for about three months.


Carry on.


Sick & Tired

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
So whatever we got this week has really knocked us all out. Mrs. A is absolutely miserable and I'm at work now in a barely conscious state of uncontageous numb. Our HR office has some over the counter stuff for headaches and sniffles and such and I pilfered as much as I could to get me through the day. I'm on my 5th nose and it's already peeling again.

The kids seem to be fairing a bit better. LMA has been sleeping a lot (but I think she's growing a bit) and G-man hasn't missed a beat. At most he sniffs once in a while. I'm kind of pissed because we'd planned on going out to see Mrs. A's family this weekend for her birthday but I don't know if it's worth getting everyone sick. We'd been so looking forward to it, I don't know now.

I stumbled upon this while going through my RSS feeds. Apparently this retired guy is assembling links to 1700 web comics. I didn't see ASJ listed in there, but I think he was looking at more traditional strip type cartoons. ASJ is more super hero, graphic novel type work. Anyway, I don't think he was doing it to become a web comic portal either. In fact, after reading the site, I'm not sure why he was doing it other than maybe he's a bit crazy and has a lot of free time. (For instance, he says it takes him eight hours to make 12 links. I think he's making life too hard on himself, but it's his obsession, not mine.)

What it illustrates to me, though, is there's a lot of crap out there. I stopped by a good number of these - a few I read already - and for the most part, web comics seem to be 80% idea, 15% reliable updates and 5% artistic ability. The few gems you see are the exceptions to this and tweak the art quite a lot, but then they only come out twice a week instead of every day. Unless your whole job is making a comic, you're going to find the easiest way to do things, even if that means taking the same pictures of dinosaurs and adding witty text.

This posits a bit of a paradox for me. I believe I have an artistic quality that would make cartoon strip creation a natural fit, but I don't have the time to make it an every day event. Part of building an audience is saying you will update at certain intervals and those are always kept. Several comics pride themselves on having gone years without missing an update. With the advantage of some back end scripting, as long as you do your work ahead of the queue, you'll always publish on time. The trick is to find out what that time frame is. Can you do three strips a day? A week? To me the hardest part would be the content and writing, not the art itself.

This doesn't get me any closer to actually making anything. I personally don't know anyone making a strip right now. I read a few, but I don't frequently talk with the creators. The people I do know are doing their own thing either with commissioned art, freelance illustration, graphic design or comic books. It might be good for me to stop trying to follow these people and do something on my own...

...using robots, hoboes, zombies and pirates of course.

Carry on.


Back in the Saddle

After that last pity post I thought it'd be better to just get my ass back to work. I finished lettering a book for Daniel Cox, a UK writer of some pop sci-fi and urban books (really worth checking out,) and I've got another lettering gig to get through. Dan's stuff required a lot of thinking and trying new things, it wasn't traditional. It took a while to get done right, I hope he's happy with the work. This new gig is the same number of pages, but doesn't seem to be as challenging, it's more traditional, shouldn't take but a couple days.

After that I have to get a flushmount for Mrs. A done. Flushmounts are a weird animal. They're relatively easy to do, the hard part is getting all the 70-100 pictures out of sometimes 2,000 raw images. After that it's just a matter of assembling the pictures more or less in the same format time after time.

I've also got some more robots to scan and a few other drawings to get started. A fellow stationed in the Middle East contacted me to do a commission for him as well but that won't be until October.

But right now I'm recovering from a wicked head cold. Apparently one of the kids picked up something when they were at the doctor's office and gave it to both me and Mrs. A. I left work early yesterday and I'm at home now. I spent all night in an Advil Cold-n-Sinus induced stupor, unable to fall asleep. Mrs. A spent yesterday in similar misery, barely able to watch the kids and work. Today I'm a bit better, but still weak, achy, stuffed up and coughing. I'm truly amazed at how much snot my head can produce. We were out of tissue so I was carrying a roll of TP around with me to keep blowing my nose and plugging it when it just decided to leak. In about 6 hours I ran out of that roll and had to get a new one.

It's odd that I've suddenly found a bit of motivation just as my body starts battling an invasion.

I've also decided to possibly do some interviews for the 100 Artists Project. Probably be a good addition to the site and give some folks some exposure. The initial push from Drawn! has dropped off and so far we're up to 64 drawings. It's an impressive feat, but we're still short. I'm still a bit sad that all the people on PJ that signed up haven't come through. I shouldn't be surprised, it's like rooting for your home team that you know has a losing record. You know you're going to be let down, but you cheer them on anyway.

So I'm drinking fluids and watching CNN now and I don't expect to move a lot until this cold goes away - which I hope is soon.

Carry on.


What Happened?

Oz Commission
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I'm performing my administrative duties on Penciljack today and something hits me. I don't care about comic books any more.

I don't care who's drawing them, who's writing them. I don't care about web comics or comics being made into movies. I don't care about the theories and studies of graphic novels. I don't care about comic books being seen as a cultural barometer. I don't want to know what Wolverine or Iron Man or Hulk are doing. I don't even care about the stories I've come up with. I don't want to make them into comic books.

At least right now.

I came to this realization a couple months ago when being at the grand opening of a local comic store on Free Comic Book Day sparked absolutely no interest. It rekindled no love. Last night I was finishing up this comic panel for a client when I realized that I have no love for it. Creativity seems kind of a chore lately. I'm supposed to be helping run the ASJ41 webcomic and yet I can't bring myself to update the production list. I've got a smattering of my own strip ideas, uncolored robots, undrawn hoboes, and myriad story ideas waiting to be realized and yet I don't want to do anything. I don't feel like drawing, I don't feel like writing, I don't even feel like watching TV.

Must be the middle of summer.

I don't mind picking up commissions and will gladly knock them out when they come up. I like getting paid - finally getting paid - for something I like doing. Maybe the remuneration is causing my muse to ebb. I'm waiting for people to tell me what they want rather than doing things for myself.

As with the 100 Artists Project, I'm very in tune with the idea of starting something and then just watching it evolve. I've been at the helm of so many projects, most of which never amount to anything, that I think I'm burning myself out. I see people like Len and Adam and Eduardo constantly drawing and being innovative and productive and I get a mixed sense of "Not now" and "Why bother."

Here's some of the projects I'm working on or ideas I've had:

* Doing a sketchbook full of robots, seven of them adding up to 700 total drawings and then selling the sketchbooks

* T-shirts showing caution sign type figures playing childhood games.

* Make a coloring book of robots.

* Make more robot t-shirts.

* Do a second issue of the comic book I started years ago.

* Do a comic strip based on the life of an artist who has a robot best friend.

* A Doctor Who "Time War" comic or script.

* A Fifth Element prequel script.

* More customized cartoon portraits; robots, faeries, elves, pirates, whatever.

* The PJ Member Poster

* The ASJ webcomic production

* The PJU webcomic

* Writing an episode for ASJ.

These are just a handful of things that rattle around in my head. They'll change from week to week. This time last year I was heavy into Albatross 18, so much so I was designing a character and sketching out course designs. Since then I haven't even played the game. I don't know if it's a focus thing or just me losing some creative juice. I can't do much of this at home because there's not a lot of time and most of this requires time. I have time at my day job, but I can't in good conscience use that time for creative endeavors. I'm afraid of how much I abuse that as it is.

Mrs. Austin got on with the Pflugerville paper yesterday. She's not only the latest addition to their freelance photographer bullpen, but they also mentioned that they liked her byline writing enough to be a reporter. So she's now on with two local papers. I couldn't be happier for her.

I think that partly makes me want to just stop what I'm doing from time to time and just cruise through life. I see a lot of people doing what love doing for a living and I read a lot of sites centered around the freelance life, how to make it, how to survive and such and it makes me appreciate how hard that life is and how I'm in no position to do it.

Mrs. A sent me a link to a local group that meets up once a month (or so) and exchanges ideas and concepts about robots. Their group's charter says they welcome everyone from artists to engineers, but I know that I'd feel totally out of place showing up to a hall full of BattleBot designers with my little sketchbook of cartoon droids. It illustrates a confidence I still don't have in my craft and probably is a leading cause to my current funk.

Yeah, yeah. This is a "Woe is me" post. I've got nothing much more to talk about. Well, I do. There's the new Transformers cartoon that looks like crap, the Indian Jones movie has finished filming, Karl Rove won't have to testify to congress, a bridge collapsed in Minnesota, Futurama is coming back to TV...but honestly I feel scattered, spread thin and these things are only of a passing interest.

Oh wait, I haven't had any coffee today. That explains it.

Carry on.


Indiana Jones

I'm excited, but man sakes these guys are a bit old. Except for Shia. And how cool that Karen Allen is in it. I didn't know that.