We’ve Got It Covered

When working on the interior pages of Pride Of The Decent Man, I’d take a day or two and work on potential covers for the book. Here are a few alternates and rejected version of the book cover for PRIDE. ( you can click the images to see them at a larger size ). It’s always a nice change of pace to concentrate on single image after working on sequential pages for so long. I’d say some were more successful than others. There were elements taken from a few of these that made it onto the final design. There are things I like about each one, and definitely some things I could’ve done better. It’s a process, like anything else. It’s not wasted time, because in the back of my mind, I think – “this could end up being a good cover for a foreign translated edition!” If that were to happen, though, I’d end up wanting to redraw it anyway.

To find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including ordering info, go here.

Thanks for reading!

T.J.

On Lettering And Fonts.

When I was first putting together the initial proposal for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, I thought about the lettering quite a bit. I hadn’t hand lettered a comic in quite a while ( my old lettering instructor Mike Chen at Kubert School is rolling his eyes ), and working digitally as I have been for 9+ years, I’ve seen what computer fonts work best with my particular style of artwork. Fonts that’ve worked for me in the past wouldn’t necessarily look best with this new story. It’s quieter, more contemplative than my previous books, and with that should come an appropriate font ( or fonts ).

I tried a few favorites from ComiCraft and Blambot I’d used over the years, but they didn’t look quite right for this project. They seemed to modern, too dynamic. I half-remembered one I’d used while working on an educational comic for UC Berkeley years ago. It was a font based on the hand lettering of Danish, NYC-based cartoonist Henrik Rehr, and designed by Johan Brandstedt. Henrik is a fantastic and prolific cartoonist, and his lettering is very organic and subtle on his many projects.

I thought it would work for the dialogue PRIDE, and I think it does! It’s also fairly close to a better version of my own lettering, if I were patient enough to try. Of course, it’s been years of not using that particular muscle. Luckily in this day and age, it’s very easy to reach out to fellow creators through social media or email, so I did just that. I asked permission to use the lettering font in my book and he agreed. I call that pretty lucky.

fonts

For the captions from Andrew’s notebooks, I found a similarly organic-looking font designed by Font Diner that looks like someone’s handwriting. They also enthusiastically gave permission, as Henrik had, and I think what came out in the end works in support of the storytelling.

So please, seek out the work of Henrik Rehr as well as Font Diner if you can and support them. They’ve been good to me, and I can’t thank them enough.

For more information, including how to order, and preview pages for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here!

Thanks again for reading.

T.J.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Seeing It Through

I’ve illustrated only a few graphic novels. There are cartoonists that can produce an astonishing amount of pages every year. On the flipside there are cartoonists who take a decade to produce their magnum graphic novel opus. I’m not the fastest, but I’m also not the slowest. Speaking from experience, I’ll add that having a child can slow you down your productivity a bit. The most important thing to do when you’re working on a graphic novel is to simply finish it.

There was an interview in The Comics Journal years ago with Aaron Renier – I’m paraphrasing of course, but he was talking to a fellow cartoonist, the talented Craig Thompson. He was offering advice while Aaron struggled with his debut graphic novel, Spiral-Bound.

I can tell you from experience, It’s difficult, grueling and daunting. The sheer amount of work is overwhelming. Craig Thompson worked on many comics that he abandoned before finishing his breakthrough, Goodbye, Chunky Rice. He realized that the most important part is to finish things. You have to see it through. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There may be weeks where you get nothing done, or days you lose because you realize the storytelling didn’t make sense. Even though you may like the drawing itself, you’ve gotta throw out the page and start over.

To have a finished book, to hold it in your hands – it’s like crossing that finish line. You, can’t get there, however, if you don’t stick with it. If you’re a flake, if you don’t commit to the work, you can never finish. You simply have to chug along, do the work. See it through.

To find out more about my new book, PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order a copy, go here.

 

You’ve got mail!

Physical mail (the stuff that gets delivered to your door by a postman, as opposed to digital mail in your inbox) is under fire in The Netherlands. There’s less of it, so there are huge cuts in delivering hours and postman wages, while stamp prices go up and up.

Nevertheless, nothing beats the thrill of getting a personal letter by snail mail. And it’s been a thrilling time for me in that respect – here’s some stuff that got delivered to me recently:

resist

My wonderful Californian proofreader Dan Schiff sent me two copies of Resist!, the revolutionary magazine that my Minnie-comic was featured in. It’s great to finally be able to browse it (96 pages!) AND it came with lovely personal stuff from Dan, who’s also a gifted artist and a big James Joyce fan – that’s his drawing on a James Joyce bag, and he even added a little doodle especially for us!

Thanks, Dan!

cephalopod

She used to do my accounts for me, now Olga Nagtegaal is dabbling in linoleum prints and I just had to get my hands on this beautiful cephalopod. She even threw in a “misprint” which is just as lovely! (I’m cheating a bit, because Olga actually delivered this to my door, but it was in an addressed envelope, so it still counts as mail).

Thanks, Olga!

lenticular-maatn

My brother Maarten de Heer recently launched a successful Kickstarter to fund his unique lenticular painting BIOSCOPE. Yesterday, the rewards arrived – pieces from the experimental prints he made in the process. Especially for us, he added a print of these animations Yiri made on the DS:

lenticular-yiri

(The real-life picture moves when you change the angle – it’s made from a 15-frame animation)

Thanks, Maarten!

argibald

Artist Willem Bentvelzen (a.k.a. Argibald) makes hilarious cartoons, but also these lovely artistic drawings. For a few years now, he has produced one a day, offering them for a reasonable price of which 20% goes to the food bank. It’s the second time I’ve received his art, and I especially love this stack of cats. It arrived with a personal card and a stack of his cartoons.

Thanks, Willem!

Apart from receiving mail, I have also sent out some. In order to win votes for becoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands, I’m offering original doodles and sending them out on postcards. Here’s a selection:

cards

I’m continuing this until the end of September, by the way, so if you want one too, drop me a line!

(Netherlands only, but if you live abroad and you ask nicely, I’ll consider it)

Revisiting Older Work

It’s a common occurrence for illustrators to be uninspired. Some call it Artist’s Block, some refer to it as a rut. These are all describing a similar situation. From experience, I can tell you it’s not fun.

I’ve gone for extended periods thinking what little work I’ve created is terrible, and well beneath the standards I’ve set.

Comparing your work to others’ is something that only makes it worse. “I’ll never be as good as _______!”

There’s one thing I’ve found that can provide quite a boost in self esteem, and that’s revisiting and re-creating old artwork.

Surely I’m better than my 20-year-old self at this point.

Every once in a while, I’ve been taking old pieces of mine from my art school days ( give or take a few years ), and redrawing them. I have a folder on my desktop computer with older files I like to revisit, and it’s not difficult to find awkward art that could benefit from some tweaking. It’s great for self-esteem, and generally a lot of fun. It’s my favorite way to break out of any kind of funk or drawing rut.

Here are a few examples…

Redraw

redraw 2

redraw 3

redraw 4

Thanks for reading!

To find out more about my upcoming graphic novel, PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here.

 

Cartooning Influences

One of the most asked questions cartoonists receive during interviews is a fairly obvious one.

Who are your influences?”

Any creative person you talk to has more than a few artists who they look to for guidance and inspiration. When you’re stuck in a rut artistically/creatively, it certainly helps to go back to old favorites and look at some of your favorites with fresh eyes. I always find new techniques and approaches I may have not caught in previous readings.

I have many cartooning heroes, but a few I always go back to are Daniel Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez and Chester Brown.

influences

Not only does their artwork speak to me, but each of their narrative voices are so clear, distinctive, personal and specific. I discovered David Boring and Louis Riel around the same time, around 2000-2001. I was just beginning art school and the medium of comics was opening up a whole new world for me. I’m still trying to make work worthy of the impression those books left on me.

I’ve sat down and studied their work so often, you’d think I was trying to absorb their cartooning powers through osmosis.

When working on books, there have even been times where I would have to hide their books from myself for fear of swiping something unconsciously, or ‘aping’ their style too much.

I think a lot of illustrators go through something similar with their influences.

Of course I’d be kidding myself I said the Kuberts weren’t an influence on me as well, having gone through their school and seen them create firsthand. Adam, Andy and Joe always amazed my classmates and I with their work ethic and command of the craft.

It’s pretty amazing how much you can retain and recall from studying others’ work. It all goes into a huge melting pot, through your own brain, and onto the page.

To find out more about my new graphic novel PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back

A year after finishing LOOK, I drew this short prequel story. It takes place many, many years before the events of the book and we get to see a bit more of how Artie and Owen’s relationship works.

Enjoy!

010203040506

Go to my main website to check out more of my short stories!

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.