Strip up and some news.

Comic is up. I have to say, I wasn't totally unpleased with The Bionic Woman. It wasn't great by any means, but after the downer that was the Heroes premier, I have to say it wasn't all bad. Mrs. A is making me watch The Office. She recently discovered it and has been using my Netflix account to catch up before the season premier (which was yesterday.) I'd never watched The Office; I don't dig uncomfortable humor, but I have to say the show grew on me. The characters really sold it for me and there was actual humor involved. Honestly though, if it was just a show about Jim and Dwight I think I'd be ok with that.

And about Mrs. A, there's something I've been putting off telling people as it's really no one's business, but there's a few things this journal does that have to change because of recent events.

Mrs. A and I are no longer married, but it's complicated.

When she and I met 10 years ago, she was dating a girl. Yes, she's gay. Regardless, we fell in love and got married and had two absolutely fabulous kids. We've had a lot of good times together and have done a lot in 10 years. However, she can't live as a straight woman any more, it's not who she is. For the last year she's been tentatively dating someone. I knew about it, we had a long talk about it. (A talk that's lasted for a year and hasn't stopped.)

I'm sad and broken hearted, but I can't fault her. If I were in her shoes, I don't know that I'd be able to marry a guy no matter how much I loved him. It's not how I work. The fact that we lasted 10 years is almost a triumph and our separating isn't so much a failure as it is a signing off on a successful experiment. We still love each other and we are still friends, but we're just not intimate with each other any longer. Our relationship revolves now around our kids, our house and our finances. Once we're out of debt and the kids are grown we will likely legally separate, there' just no reason to do so now. Neither of us wants to remarry and we both still like being around each other.

It may be hard to understand and I don't expect the average reader to completely grip the situation, but that's the way it is. We're more roommates now. We're both meeting new people, we both still like each other, we don't fight and our kids are still loved and cared for. As she likes to say, it's an evolution not an ending.

So, if you see me change things like Mrs. A to Ms. A or wife to friend or partner, that's what's going on. I haven't figured out how to tell my coworkers. My parents and brother got an email this morning. I'm sure they'll call me tonight. I think this might give my grandma a stroke. But, life must move forward. I can't change her any more than I have in the past 10 years and it's time she stops living as someone else. For those of you who know us, I ask you to please not think bad of either of us. It's our lives and our decisions. But I thought I should at least say something as it's just too juicy not to write down.

Carry on.


Ads and Traffic

I'm going to be adding some stuff to the site. Maybe some ads and ways to increase traffic. It's more an experiment than anything. I don't pull down but a few dozen hits a day so it'd be interesting to see how far this goes.

You'll notice the big window on the sidebar, that's for Blog Rush. It seems like a good widget and service so we'll see.


Upon reading a bit more about Blog Rush, it seems it's just a traffic exchange program like many others before it. Sad. I may still use it, but I think I'm both late to the party and probably not the kind of blog writer that would profit from this.

Plus there's the part where having a traffic exchange on your site voids your AdSense TOS. I don't run ads now, I just wanted traffic for art commissions. I'll give it a couple weeks, see what happens.


Toon up

I don't want to have to explain this one. It's funny to parents. That should be enough.


DeviantArt versus Flickr

So, I'm spinning my wheels and racking my brain getting the 100 Artist Project the publicity it needs to get the final 30 pieces of art (seriously, it just stopped, no one is sending anything) when I decide to give Deviant Art another try. I know I started a project topic there early on so I thought I'd check on it.

I'd created a DA account about the same time as my Flickr account. Mrs. A had been on Flickr a while before me and was using it for her photos and networking. Up until recently Flickr as been a photo friendly, if not exclusive, gallery networking site. Deviant Art has always been more open to any form of art. However, the differences in the structure made me really start leaning heavily toward Flickr, enough that I'd end up paying a yearly fee so I could be excluded by virtue of my pencil.

DA's major failing to me is it's usability, and the biggest part of that are the uploads.

Many if not all image hosting sites allow users to upload multiple images at a time. You may not have much control over their size, descriptive tags or categorizing methods but you can at least bulk upload. The more prolific you are, the more this becomes a major selling point. DA doesn't allow that. I haven't even seen where it's available if you have a paid subscription. Each time you want to upload a file, you have to give it a category via an inane flash menu, you have to pick the file one at a time, you HAVE to give it tags and you HAVE to give it a description or it won't let you upload it. Then each time you upload, you HAVE to agree to both the TOS and the EULA. It's not enough that you agreed to it by signing up, you have to do it each time you upload an image. To make matters worse, once you fill all this out, it asks you if you want to sell your work. I'm all for making money on my art, but please don't ask me every frickin' time to do it. Let me upload 15 drawings and just let people decide if they want to buy it.

Now, they make it a bit easier by allowing you to put multiple files in a "holding area" but it's useless because the upload page forgets all the information, categories and checkboxes you just filled out and so you have to repeat the process. I was going to throw up 30 robot drawings but I don't have all weekend to fuck around in there.

Another thing I've noticed about DA is the weird community structure. It's both forum and comments and journal and comments on journals and projects in which there are discussions. It's a bit all over the place and today I was noticing there is only one page full of forum. It only goes back a day and there isn't a second page. That's especially troublesome when you're sifting through the "how can we make our site better" forum and there's only 20 suggestions going back to yesterday.

Flickr on the other hand is a peach. I have still some problems with it, namely the fact that ad agencies with low morals assume the site is a one stop shop for stock photos. On the flip side, I believe there was originally such a loophole in DA's EULA that the company was practically selling images without the members' knowledge. Flickr also has had some problems with censorship, but it's run by Yahoo! and it's run all over the world. I think eventually those issues will work out.

Deviant Art also doesn't allow hotlinking, last I checked. What this means is you can't go to your favorite message board and post up the image you've hosted at DA. You can link to the page it's on, but not display it in line. This may sound like an odd thing, but when you're an artist who communicates online, you want people to see your work. Flickr doesn't necessarily allow it either, and it gives you code to link back to the image in your stream if you post it elsewhere, but then it also provides the link for just the image itself. It's like your parents giving you beer and the keys and then saying, "Do the right thing."

I've poured through some of DA's community and while it seems more lively, it's not necessarily more constructive or friendly, at least more than Flickr. Flickr doesn't have the classic message board structure for it's groups, but it's groups provide more options as a way to pool art and also have discussions based on the group theme. As far as I can tell, DA is either galleries or forums and not much in the way of connecting them, I could be wrong.

Flickr is also clean and professional looking. It's simple and easy to find things. My only complaint about it is the official Forums are all a million posts long and searching for official information can be tedious. But not impossible. DA is dark, angst ridden and doing its best to remain cool by offering mobile services (which Flickr does too.) It's more open to all artists, but I get the impression it's the anime and desktop wallpaper designers that are the darlings, just as the photographers still are on Flickr.

Flickr also has so many ways to tweak the site with it's open API that any shortcomings you may find are always just a Greasemonkey script away from being a thing of the past. This makes the site feel more user friendly and hospitable and it makes DA seem restrictive and intractable. I'm willing to give DA another shot if it helps the project, but I'm serious, it's that one at a time upload thing that's just got me wanting to reach through the screen and shake the crap out of whoever built the stupid site.

If you have kind or evil words for either site, I'd love to here them.

Carry on.


Comic up

I like this format a bit more than the four wide. Seems to give me more room to draw, plus it's easier to scan on my miniature version of what could remotely be considered something close to an image scanning device.

I need to spend some time with these characters. I know what they should look like, but they never look the same when I draw them.

Carry on.


Avast ye land lubbers!

Ahoy me hearties! It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Grab yer ropes and bails and make fer the horizon like the good salty dogs ye arrrrr!

I'm sure in hip joints that serve coffee, ice cream and burritos, there will be eye patches and hooked hands and perhaps a few parrots, but I have to tell ya that in a corporate environment, ITLAPD is about as popular as Arbor Day. And if I actually talked like a pirate all day, I might be asked to go home.

Which was why it was such a treat to see Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm last night. At a point that colored the rest of the evening, P&S mentioned that since we were a geek crowd, we all should know what tomorrow was. We did and a series of multiemotional ARRRS! were offered to accompany a song about Seamen. Yes it was that kind of show.

I'd post a picture of my own, but out of all the 700 Things groups, I've yet to draw a pirate. I've also not drawn a dragon, unicorn, bunny, clown, knight or super hero. I need to rectify that. No, this drawing you see came from long time hobo buddy Halcyonsnow. Hal, a.k.a. Mike Peterson, is also involved in the 100 Artists Project and was the subject of last week's interview.

So no, I don't have a pirate drawing to celebrate this day. Like I said, I spent last night at the JoCo, P&S show, which was a monumental delight. If you haven't heard of either of those guys, I suggest you first find a solid piece of wood and hit yourself over the head, and then go to their sites and listen to some wonderfully creative, absurd and hilarious music. I don't know if it's a mark of age or level of cool, but I can't imagine that any music other than the type these guys perform is as fan rewarding.

The show itself was a blast as well. I kept hemming and hawing over whether or not to approach the performers. It was in a venue that was small (The Cactus Cafe on the UT campus, I think maybe 60-80 people were there) and there were ample opportunities to just walk up and say hello. At one point near the end of the show, JoCo actually said they'd be outside so come by, buy a CD, get an autograph or at least say hello.

Well, I could barely do that.

I said thanks for the fine show to both JoCo and Storm, but for some reason when I got to Paul I actually said that I bring greetings from Len Peralta (of Jawbone Radio.) It was all I had. I know Len knows the duo and has done some work with JoCo on his Thing a Week and other projects. Len and I have not necessarily worked together, but we've been involved in similar projects since the 700 Hoboes and we talk every once in a while about art and business. I didn't think it was that big of a deal at first. It's almost like being at a party and chatting someone up and you find out that their poker buddy is your coworker. You have that in common and it opens doors.

Well, the difference in this case is these guys are famous and I'm not and after a few seconds I realized my error and it became sort of awkward. When I told JoCo that I was a fan ever since Thing a Week and reading Areas of My Expertise, that was ok. Saying I'm glad that he was back after the stop at Book People last year, that was ok. I mentioned I was one of the 700 Hobo artists and he seemed to think that was cool, but in the same way George Takei might react to a Trekkie who happened to be a gopher in one of the movies.

So yeah, after I said my 5 sentences to Paul, thanked him for coming to Texas, said I was sorry they had to drive to Houston, then Dallas (which is 7 hours total driving) I left as fast as I could. The people I was with stayed to get autographs and CDs and stuff, but I felt as though I'd breached some etiquette boundary and I left as quickly as I could.

I hate that feeling. I don't want to feel have an "in" with these guys, and I don't. At most I have a passing brush with their greatness. They write songs and perform for a living and they are very good at it. I draw cartoons, much like millions of other people. Ah well.

One of the cooler parts for me was between sets I was outside having a smoke. There was one other girl out there and she commented that it was surprising there were only two smokers. I said I wasn't surprised. Most of the geeks I know aren't smokers and this show was full of geeks. She agreed and then asked if I was a fan of P&S and JoCo and I said yes. We agreed they were great and she asked if I'd been a fan a long time and I said that I'd been one every since Hodgman's book came out and I found out who Coulton was and what his music was like. I said I was such a fan of the 700 Hoboes reading and the book that a bunch of like minded fans started drawing the hoboes and putting them up on Flickr.

She said she loved those and when I told her my screen handle she actually said she knew which ones I'd done. So, I guess that evens out the horrible feeling I had after the show by being a name dropper.

Carry on, me hearties!


Comic up.

Good or not, I'll do two a week for a year.


Dr. Sketchy - Austin

Originally uploaded by digicisco.
So this weekend I was able to take part in a neat MeetUp.com group. I've decided I need to get out and meet more people and I figure naked people, drawing and booze is just the way to do it.

Dr. Sketchy started in NY as a way to combine burlesque and art school...naturally. After a while the idea caught on and there are now (officially) 18 of them world wide. It's pretty cool that one happens to be in Austin, but then again, why wouldn't there be?

The photo was from a previous event, the ones from Saturday aren't up yet and my sketches are too light to scan. I'd forgot my B pencils and ended up using a bunch of #2s I'd brought as back up. But I was able to reserve a table instead of a chair and passed the time drinking ciders and drawing, not a bad evening.

The models are culled from the counter culture scene and so far have included roller derby girls, burlesque performers and punk front men. The organizer, Miss Dee, also puts on some costumes - or most of a costume - and poses as well. There are also contests during the drawing which you have to incorporate something into a drawing (last time it was money.) Then at the end of the night the MC, the models and the bartender pick their favorite and the artists win prizes.

Aside from that it's typical life drawing with a model; 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 minute poses with breaks every hour. There was 80's music playing, it was fun.

The low point for me was hanging around after the drawing was done. I thought surely since this was a Meet Up group that there would be people wanting to do stuff after the event. Austin City Limits was going on, it was only 8pm on a Saturday, surely people were considering taking the party elsewhere.

Well I'd never know. As I was waiting to see who won the prizes - it wasn't me, not even close, there was some fantastic work done - I was approached by one of the hostesses of the event. She sidled up to me and asked if I had a good time and introduced herself. We chatted for a bit, she being engaging and bright, me being sluggish and dim. She mentioned that they would keep any art people wanted to donate for an art show they'd be doing in a month. So I said I'd leave something.

Then something happened that I'm not used to: I think there was flirting.

She asked if I had plans afterwards and I said no. She said she had tickets to a show (a band I'd never heard of and was probably too cool for me) but thought she should eat first. I agreed that I hadn't eaten and it would probably be a good idea....and then it was all pops and buzzes and the next thing I knew I was walking to my car.

Now, I've been out of the game a while so I'm not sure if she was being polite or coy. It was an event meant to get people together, have fun, mingle, etc. But then again, she was helping with lights, collecting artwork, she was probably just being a good host. I have a feeling that's the case, mainly because she was hot and charming and I'm...well...me.

There'll be another one in October, these are monthly. I'm sure there will some semi-nude ghouls to draw. Should be fun.

New strip up Tuesday.

Carry on.


License to Breed

I read a review of the new Rob Zombie Halloween movie that's out today and the reviewer said that the scariest thing he saw wasn't the movie itself, it was coming out and seeing a stroller by the door. He waited and saw some young parents with their three kids, the oldest being five, leaving the theater.

Now, the argument that will come up will be of the License to Breed variety, but I'd like to counter that with a Village of Loud Shaming argument that I just made up. Here's the idea. Rather than silently bemoan the wrongs of the world and write about them on your blog or make anonymous comments online or later tell your friends about it, take a stand right there and speak your mind. Tell someone who's doing the wrong that you disagree with them and next time you shouldn't do it.

Yes, that's hard and confrontational. But it's time we start not letting the socially retarded run the world any more. This goes for parents bringing their babies to horror movies and people suing restaurants for hot coffee spills all the way up to Presidents making unpopular choices. We have to stop being cows and take back our lives.

If you're taking your baby to a Rob Zombie movie, you really deserved to be shouted out of the theater. I don't care if you can't find a babysitter. If you can't, you don't go to the movies. You have to assume the responsibility that comes with being a parent. If you don't, and legally you can't lose your kids, well then socially we should be able to point fingers and belittle you until you are shamed into never doing it again. Can you imagine the effect that would have? No protracted legal battles, no waiting for a governmental mandate, just pure unadulterated mob rule. You bring a baby to a slasher flic and 150 people stand up and say, "Bad parent! Go see a cartoon! Get out of here. How could you treat your baby like that. Of all the nerve, are you daft? What kind of caregiver are you?" You think they'll ever do that again? Then, when the person sues the theater, the attorneys need to have the cahones to stand up and say, "No, this is stupid. You brought a baby to a horror movie, you should reported to CPS as it is. I won't take this case." And then when a lawyer DOES take the case - because one always will - the judge needs to slap that shit down with the condemnation of a thousand granite gavels.

Common sense needs to rule again. Simple sociality should not be left to the lowest common denominator. We need to rise up as a people and say, "We are not cattle!" Especially Americans. We do what we're told and we file lawsuits when we don't get our way. Convenience is king to us and we let it run our lives to ruin.

I'm not trying to be barbaric, I'm actually trying to be civil. I'm all for seeing to the welfare of our elderly and sick. Through no choice of their own they have been reduced and it's the mark of a good civilization that sees to the least of its civilians.

But not the stupid. And I don't mean low IQ, I mean irresponsible and insensitive.

I'm tired of paying the price for other people's stupidity. My insurance shouldn't be high because some jackhole got wasted and wrapped his penis-mobile around a light pole. Movie tickets shouldn't have to go up to cover litigation costs. Food prices shouldn't have to go up to cover legal fees because someone didn't cook their chicken properly.

I want to be nice and harmonious but at the same time I feel like looking around and saying, "You know what? No. You're a jackass. Think before you do something that dumb again." We need to understand that we live together and we will improve as a people when we can move forward together. Imagine the scenario of a friend at a party talking with a group of people and this person says they are thinking of getting back together with a crazy ex girlfriend. Think of the interventions people have with loved ones about booze and drugs. Those are the kinds of actions we should take. Band together as people, not white or Jewish or Christian or poor or famous or Malaysian or any qualifier, but as humans.

I feel like I'm talking to a 6 year old. We're smarter than this. You spill hot coffee on your nuts, suck it up and move on. You won't do it again, will you? Good for you, you've learned a lesson. Be an advanced mammal and look at the big picture. Use your gray matter and thumbs and stop being such a victim.

Maybe we should make a list of Common Sense Commandments. No religion here, just basic human interactions. Not a blind faith in untested absolutes, but a genuine belief through practice that humanity can rise above everything and interact on a base level so primitive that it transcends all other ideologies. Simple is better.

Wow. Sorry, went on there a bit.

Carry on.

Trailer Mashups

I love trailer mashups. This is one of the better ones.


What's up?

There's been a lot going on at the LIA Compound. I don't know what to say yet but let's just say it's good I have my drawing.

I have a synced up folder with a few of my long time, online comic book friends. We're using something called FolderShare. You designate a folder on your machine and everyone shares that virtual directory and can put files in there. The guys use it to show everyone what they're working on and then when they all Skype chat at night they pass sketches back and forth asking for input. It's a great idea and I'd probably be on with them more if I drew comic book stuff more - which I don't.

So I was looking through it last night and I realized that it's hard to be a mass media artist without having a lot of knowledge about the culture. The Heroforge guys are without a doubt some of the most talented and knowledgeable guys I know. Not only are they skilled artists, but they are masters of their chosen niche. They know a lot about comics, who's involved, what the current business practices and company happenings are and the current saturation of the genre in the public. Likewise, most of the people I know on Flickr who do more cartoony art seem to have this studied appreciation for their craft and a respect for the history from which the medium sprouts.

I've been interviewing people for the 100 Artists Project as a way to bolster the activity on the site; give potential artists and current contributors something to look forward to. But in reading the responses, I've come to a realization that I know very little about the field in which I claim to be a part. My influences are very Top 40 radio in comparison. The people I name as having an impact on my creativity list like a child's and it's very humbling and annoying.

Then I realized that it's that way for most of my life. My choice in music, my understanding of politics and movies and TV and technology. I don't feel steeped in anything. I'm not actively a guru or an Alpha Geek or a mentor or a schooled practitioner of anything. I know just enough to get by. I'm really good at faking it. If I know anything, it's how to assimilate. But that only gets me so far. Soon, I'm left spinning around, panicked and aimless, quickly researching topics in an effort not to fail. I'm like this at my job and in my hobbies. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then hating myself for the results I turn out.

Part of this is motivation. I'm driven to complete the oddest and often times the most inconsequential things; collecting Lego, playing simple online games, drawing cartoon robots, making lists of things, catching up on old TV shows. I know I'm distracted easily and I have to get as much done or absorbed as quickly as I can because in no time I'll be off to something else.

I wish I wasn't like that. I wish I had the patience to appreciate the quiet and calm and rewarding road that is learning. I wish I had a schedule that allowed me to sit down with a book on Network Administration and a brain that would enjoy letting the facts settle into my head. I wish I knew more about cartoons and comic books and modern art. I wish I could name more (any) local bands or big names in the local art scene. I've got a million things going on and yet none of them feel fully realized or even more than tenuously imagined. I have good intentions, but I lack execution.

The other thing is, I'm 34. Some of this should have happened by now. I should be very good at something. I should have a degree or a license or major scholarly or technical accomplishment. People, who aren't my kids, should come to me seeking advice and I should have the answers for them. Shouldn't I? I hear people talk about music and I admire their in depth appreciation for bands I've never heard of, all the while knowing they know about my favorites. I hear people talk about artists from decades ago who started the movement or were seminal figures in the business and I have no idea what they're talking about, all the while knowing that my influences are pedestrian and superficial.

It's just something I think about when I'm hacking my way through these robot drawings. As much as I like doing them, I don't know if it's the drawing I like doing or the fact that people have noticed them. And that's a horrible realization; thinking that you'd rather be popular than accomplished and taking short cuts just to get your name out there and sacrificing the effort needed to be more solid in what you know and can do.

Welcome to my brain. I'm off to make another robot movie.

Carry on.

PS - The strip will resume next week.


Drawing Weekend

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
This is all I've been doing this weekend. The kids built a fort.

What are you doing?


Image Resizing

I'm sorry to do this to the video haters, but I have to share this.


LIA #3

First thing you might notice is that my character now has a beard. Well, I'd originally intended for him too, but I suppose in the first two strips he'd shaved for a job interview or something.

You'll notice G-man made it into the strip. He's taller than normal three year old.

Also, something weird with the art. I must not have tweaked the curves enough after I scanned it and I didn't notice it till later.

Night full of missteps. A client wanted an 8x10 robot of their son and for some dang reason I measured off 8x8. I told them that's why I drew cartoons of robots instead of building them. I hope I don't have to redraw it.

Carry on.


LIA #2

The tooncasting at ComicSpace works like a charm, so expect these up every Tuesday and Friday. If I get ahead of myself, I'll do them more frequently.

There's no RSS feed for the toon cast so I'll make a point to update the blog for all 6 of you guys who read it.

Carry on.


Everyday Italian

I officially have a celebrity crush.

This afternoon I'm working on a flushmount for Mrs. A and I have the TV on in the background as noise. I'm particular about background noise. It can't be insipid but it also can't be something I've already seen. This usually leaves out everything but the smart channels; TLC, The Science Channel, The History Channel, etc. How I ended up on the Food Network is anyone's guess, but the title "Everyday Italian" piqued my curiosity.

Man what a delight it turned out to be. First off, I got some great ideas for cooking some lamb and prosciutto hamburgers (I'm sure a vegetarian version, right?) and a way to make a nice cappuccino and chocolate drink. But most of the time I was gawking at the host.

Ah, Giada de Laurentiis, where have you been all my life. Oh right, Italy and California. Anyway, between the glittering white smile and the implied aroma of Italian cuisine, I didn't get any work done for about a half hour. Never has anyone made pea soup look so good to make and eat.

We all get a celebrity crush. I don't know why, but we all get one. I also don't know why I stumbled onto this one. Oh but a 4th generation Italian can dream, can't he? And can those dreams have extra virgin olive oil and a bit of thick cream?



Stupid Frakkin Spammers

I got hit by this. It probably got my full Gmail contact list. If you get something from Quechup.com saying I sent it, I really didn't.



Carry on.