The Blog

Another Night at DUNE – Banish Plump Jack Falstaff

Banish Plump Jack Falstaff and Banish all the World!Last night was another night for the DUNE group at Cafe Racer. I’m planning to go pretty regularly for a while due to the Cafe about to go bankrupt and I don’t know how the Racer most likely closing will effect the DUNE group. I really need to plan ahead more for these things for the last couple of times I come in with out the slightest idea what I’m going to draw so I usually spend the first hour desperately brainstorming. Because of this I end up doing an illustration as often as I do a comics page. This month I did have an idea for a comic page… even though it was cribbing a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry IV part one featuring Sir John Falstaff!

I’ve always liked the Falstaff scenes from Shakespeare’s history plays and have been playing around with working on them as a way to combine a storyboard project and a character design project where the events of Henry IV  taking place in a WWII like setting with the Boar’s Head is a RAF officer’s club.

This page made for a useful first step.

Rhapsodies at Three Thousand!!

Rhapsodies at three ThousandGreat news, I just posted strip number three thousand of my online comic strip, Rhapsodies!

This feels great, though as admittedly not quite as great as the last two times. Back then it felt like a great accomplishment, and now… while it’s still a great accomplishment, it feels like laps that I knew I’d get to eventually.

Still it’s a whole LOT of laps so I still feel stoked.

My Third Column For Cartoonists Northwest – Some Thoughts on Comic Conventions

Cartoonists Northwest logoMy deadline for writing my third presidential column for the Cartoonists Northwest newsletter happened to coincide with the weekend of The Emerald City ComicCon so I thought I’d share some thoughts about participating in Comic Conventions as a creator

The convention season is finally upon us, starting with Emerald City Comic Con this weekend (as of writing this), with Northwest Comic Con and Sakura Con following soon after. While I’ve been mostly priced out of the big ones, hanging out in the Convention Center lobby, or the city park directly behind it, and sketching the cosplayers is one of my favorite artistic exercises. I highly recommend it.

Going to the cons to meet artists, and buy swag and whatnot, is lots of fun – but going there professionally is even better. Doing a convention ‘on the other side of the table’ is one of the best way to do a convention and in my opinion once you’ve done it you never want to go back to only attending as a fan.

An obvious reason why is that this is one of your best opportunities to meet people with similar interests and promote your work face to face with potential fans. The other reason is that this is an opportunity to become part of a community. When you have that artist badge you’re treated as a potential colleague and fellow creator, even by all of the rock stars. And, for what it’s worth, you can also sell stuff.

My luck with attending conventions as a professional has been mixed at best, but I like to think that I’ve learned from mistakes and can provide some useful advice.

  • You want to make your table stand out with as good a sign as you can afford. It doesn’t have to be huge, just flashy enough that people can see it from a distance. Having your sign on the table’s apron is not a good idea, anyone visiting your table will be standing in front of it.
  • Pack a lunch, all the food within a square mile is overpriced and will have long lines.
  • If you’re selling merchandise make sure you have plenty of petty cash to make change with.
  • Bring some strong tape – you’ll be surprised how often you need it.
  • Your table usually comes with two chairs. Bring a friend you can trust as a reliable backup, this will let you do things like go to the bathroom and see some of the show. Otherwise the table becomes your prison.
  • Remember basic etiquette. When you’re meeting other artists remember that, like you, they are there for business. You don’t want people blocking access to your table for more than five minutes, even if an artist is your hero you need to remember to extend this courtesy at their table too. (This means that conventions often aren’t the networking opportunity that we’d like them to be).

If you remember these pointers you will find that attending a convention as a professional is a great way to spread the word about your work. Conventions are exhausting but it’s a good exhaustion!

The Comic Art of Rube Goldberg: A Talk & Insomnia Cure by Paul Tumey

THE COMIC ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG: A TALK & INSOMNIA CURE BY PAUL C. TUMEYPaul Tumey will be giving of talk about Rube Goldberg at this month’s Cartoonists Northwest meeting on the 18th at 5:30 at the university District’s Artists and Craftsman, in conjunction with the exhibit at the Seattle Museum of Popular Culture and I thought I’d share the announcement.
Come learn all about the father of screwball comics and one of the 20th century’s premier cartoonists. In conjunction with the premier of THE ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG at the Seattle Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP, formerly the EMP) through April 23, Comics historian and author Paul C. Tumey will present a sixty-minute slide lecture on the life and career of Rube Goldberg.
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) had a sixty-two year career as a cartoonist and humorist, from 1904-1962. He estimated he produced over 50,000 cartoons for publication. In the 1920s, Goldberg was the most popular newspaper cartoonist in America, famous for his “grotesque” style of caricature, and his screwball sense of humor, which directly influenced artists who would later create the Dadaist art movement.
Unlike most syndicated cartoonists who work for years with one concept and set of characters, Goldberg created something new virtually every day. He created over 100 different comic strip series, which he rotated randomly among thousands of one-shot newspaper comics. In 1907, he started a new series called “Foolish Questions,” which became a national hit. In 1912, he created the first of his invention cartoons, depicting ridiculously complex chain reactions designed to accomplish a trivial task, like licking a stamp, or opening a door. In 1918, he launched his popular Sunday comic, Boob McNutt, which ran until 1934.
In 1939, after creating humor cartoons for 35 years, Goldberg embarked on a second career as a Pulitzer-Prize winning political cartoonist. He co-founded the National Cartoonist Society, whose award, the Reuben, is named after — and designed by — him. Today, Goldberg is famous for his invention cartoons, but they comprise only about 2% of his output, most of which has not been reprinted or studied until now. His work, which influenced generations of famous cartoonists, remains a lost treasure of American comic art and humor.
Paul C. Tumey has spent years researching Rube Goldberg. Drawing on his archives, and special access to unpublished material from the Goldberg estate, Tumey will display rare art, recordings and videos that will tell the story of the remarkable life and times of one of the greatest cartoonists in history.
Paul Tumey is a writer/designer living in Seattle, WA. His work appears in numerous books and magazines, including SOCIETY IS NIX: GELLEFUL ANARCHY AT THE DAWN OF THE NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIP 1895-1915 (Sunday Press, 2014) and KING OF THE COMICS: 100 YEARS OF KING FEATURES (IDW, 2015). He writes a column, FRAMED! for The Comics Journal and regularly attends the DUNE anthology jam at the Cafe Racer. In 2014, Tumey was the co-editor and primary writer for THE ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG (Abrams ComicArts), and he recently co-edited and wrote for the forthcoming book FOOLISH QUESTIONS AND OTHER ODD OBSERVATIONS BY RUBE GOLDBERG (Sunday Press, May 2017). For the MoPOP exhibit, Tumey worked with the museum to create the introductory video that welcomes visitors at the entrance of the galleries. Tumey is currently at work on his book, SCREWBALL! THE CARTOONISTS WHO MADE THE FUNNIES FUNNY, due out from IDW’s Library of American Comics in 2018.

Sketching at the Emerald City Comiccon

Well this weekend the Emerald City ComicCon was in Downtown Settle this weekend starting the convention season for me. Which leads to one of my favorite drawing exercises, sketching cosplayers. Having been pretty much priced out of most of the larger cons for the last couple of years my current strategy is to hang out in the lobby and the city park directly behind the convention center and people watch and sketch to my heart’s content.

I haven’t had as much luck with Emerald City as I’ve had with some of the other cons. It’s crowded, and the really good cosplayers (the ones with the most elaborate/borderline pro costumes) rarely hang out In the outside areas I’ve mentioned and to make matters worse this was a pretty cool and rainy weekend so hanging out in the park was mostly out of the question.

To make matters worse I ruined my first day when I opened my backpack after I arrived and discovered the sketchbook I’d packed was one from my archives, so there was no room in it to draw. I was able to do a little bit in my smaller thumbnail sketchbook but pen and ink really isn’t good for drawing moving targets (at least not for me) 

Sunday went mostly okay and I made up for lost time with three pages (I’ve done better, but I really wasn’t in my zone quite as I’d like) Wpmorse Sketching cosplay Wpmorse Sketching cosplay Wpmorse Sketching cosplay

A Night at DUNE

DUNE is a local group of indie cartoonists and illustrators who gather at Cafe Racer every third Tuesday where over the evening everybody does a page of art then you put down three dollars and it gets printed in the group’s monthly zine.

I try to go there at least every other month (for reasons I do not understand, third Tuesday is the most popular day in the month for organizers. The reason I don’t go as often as I’d like is I have a  is on the same third Tuesday I have a choice between DUNE, a WordPress users group and a Photoshop users group at the Adobe Campus.

So it’s a great opportunity to hang with colleagues as well as challenge yourself by conceiving and executing a full page of fully inked art in under three hours. (to keep things interesting I prefer to limit myself to using a ten point marker) I find it’s the conception part that’s the most challenging part. No matter how many times I remind myself I should, I rarely go in with an idea. (or at least a good one)  So I find myself spending the first hour desperately brainstorming, doodling page compositions, pouring through notes desperately trying to think of something. Partly because of this I find myself doing full page illustrations as I am to do a comic page.

Last time was no exception. I ended up recycling a picture of some trees from a series of thumbnails I’d done as a speed exercise. To make things interesting I made it the scene for a Fairy Ball. At the time I wasn’t completely happy with it. I had blocked out the pencils a little too quickly so I ended up inking a lot of the figures in the crowd freehand and even though these were minor details in the big picture, I walked away from it mostly unsatisfied, thinking it was sloppy. (one of those Artists can’t like their own work because they’ve been looking at it for too long things.) I was genuinely surprise when it got some of my best numbers on Instagram at the time.

So, having just got it back at last night’s Dune I thought I’d share. Can’t wait to show the one I did last night, it Rocked!

A Fairy Ball From DUNE

My Second Column For Cartoonists Northwest – Where Do You Get Your Ideas

Cartoonists Northwest logoOne of the most frequent questions any creator, whether writer, artist, or cartoonist, is where do you get your ideas. Many creators, unsurprisingly, give many different answers.

Some creators respond philosophically or with profound insight, or maybe even with something about tapping into the creative flow. The rest of us tend to be a bit more snarky when we answer this question. We might say the ideas come from someplace (Albuquerque), or respond with a pithy statement that we hope is witty (my favorite is “a bottle of Jack Daniels and a very cruel god”)

But ultimately the come to the biggest secret among creatives: we really don’t know.

We do what we can to contact the muse (sometimes literally; hoping for a placebo effect I’ve considered making a small shrine more then once). Sometimes these techniques even work, but this leads to a secret we might acknowledge to nearly everyone.

We really don’t have the time.

Seeking inspiration is great, but we have deadlines and we need to come up with ideas as fast as possible – if the idea doesn’t come to you have to find a way to go get one (or, in this modern age, find it on the internet).

Ultimately getting ideas is a discipline, and just like any other discipline it gets easier with repetition…just like doing pushups, or jogging. Maintaining the analogy, there are a lot of exercises you can do to get your creativity working for you. One approach for a cartoonist is a sketch challenge (such as “Inktober”). The format is to do one drawing a day, usually based on a theme, for a week or a month (though I have benefited from a two month focus on Mother Goose). One trick for making this work for you is to make them as random as possible, perhaps literally picking an idea from a hat (dice can be used too). This way you don’t know in advance what you have to draw and “communing with the muse” or waiting for inspiration isn’t going to help you. It may feel like an uphill climb, but it works.

There are lots of other exercises and games that you can try to help with ‘creativity when you need it’, and I’m happy to announce we’re going to be trying out a lot of them at our February meeting.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Happy Darwin Lincoln Day!

Wpmorse Charles Darwin Abraham LincolnI Can’t believe I had to be reminded of this but a very happy birthday to Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln! While the two never met I still like to pretend that they would have enjoyed each other’s company over drinks as this picture implies.

Sketches – Faces in the Crowd

One of my favorite exercises when going to meetings, or am at a social event where I’m not participating in a conversation, is to sketch all of the faces of people around me. It’s useful way to keep the hand moving is a good way to avoid becoming a victim of that bane of cartoonists, the six face syndrome. Also  it’s a surprisingly great way to take notes since sketching someone makes me hyper focus allowing me to remember what they were saying… The one time I did this at a political debate was the one time I didn’t have to use a newspaper’s cheat sheet when I was voting afterwards.

This particular batch is from a talk at the Pemaquid Historical Society when I was visiting my parents in Maine this summer.

I have plenty of these and I look forward to sharing more as time goes on.

Sketches Faces in the Crowd

Fill out the Library of Congress Survey

United States Copyright Office LogoI should have mentioned this earlier, but the Library of Congress has put out a survey on what the priorities of a new Register of Copyright should be rather than have rather than conferring with members of Congress. This is unprecedented and could be a dangerous blow to creative professionals.

Therefore it is very important that as many of us Creative Professionals click this nice little link to the Survey and fill it out.

If you have any problems with the questions, here’s a nice little cheat-sheet courtesy of the Graphic Artists Guild.

Model responses for Library of Congress Survey on Register of Copyrights 

1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

The next Register of Copyrights must:
• be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and Copyright Office;
• recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being; • have significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law
• have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators of copyright works;
• possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and small businesses in protecting their creative works.;
• a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues; and
• have the solid support of the copyright community.

2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?

Priority #1: Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
Priority #2: A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation processes.

Priority #3: Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides individual creators with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts.

3. Are there other factors that should be considered?
As a creative, I believe, to the extent possible, that the views of those whose works are protected by copyright law should be given greater weight in this survey than those who are not. It is also crucial that the views of the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, be given great deference in the selection of the next Register.