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.

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The Inevitable Cartoonist Process Post

Process sharing among cartoonists has become somewhat demystified in the digital age. With the advent of social media, artists can easily ask or share with others the way in which their art is created.

“What pen do you use?”

“What computer program is good for drawing?”

“What kind of ink is best with a Hunt 102 pen nib?”

Before the internet, questions like these were more difficult to figure out. Sure, you could’ve written a letter to Charles Schulz or Jack Kirby and asked what eraser they used after inking, but you may not get a response – for several months, if at all.

These days a young cartoonist can type in ‘best inking brush for comics’ into google, compile the top five, and have them delivered to their doorstep in a day or two.

It’s a different world, this age of information.

Having said all that, if there are curious people out there wondering how a page from PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN evolves, here are a few examples – and yes, I work digitally using Manga Studio 5 and Adobe Photoshop. Lettering is done in Adobe Illustrator.

PRIDE 2

PRIDE 3

For more information on how to order PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

Thanks for reading,

T.J. Kirsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing It Down & The Origins Of PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

Ideas for books come and go, but I’ve learned that if you don’t write them down, they’ll fly away out of your head pretty quickly. If you don’t write it down, it just doesn’t exist.

Every idea I’ve had for a comic, I first wrote down in a small, simple notebook.

My favorite place to exhibit ( and buy ) comics is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. I like to have something new every time I go – to be excited about showing people your new work is a great feeling. When it came time to exhibit in 2014, I wrote and illustrated a small eight page quarter-size mini comic called TURNPIKE. It featured a nameless ‘homeless guy’ and a lonely teenager named Julie. The story evolved from those few scribbled down notes into a story.

color 1

I received a lot of good feedback about that minicomic. One cartoonist I respect a great deal told me it was very good and ‘indicative of a larger story.’

That got my wheels turning in the weeks afterward, and in 2015 I put together a proposal for a graphic novel called NEVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.

rough cover

 

It connected the two main characters in TURNPIKE and expanded on some of the themes and visual elements. I included the first ten finished pages of the book, as well as a synopsis, character descriptions, character designs, and a cover mockup.

It all started as a few hastily-scribbled sentences in a notebook, and soon evolved into a real project. NBM responded favorably and the title was eventually changed to PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

 

pridecover

 

 

 

 

My Tools and Process

FAQ1

I do almost everything in Manga Studio! (it’s actually called Clip Studio Paint nowadays) It’s pretty cheap but it can’t do everything I need it to. It doesn’t have the best text system, so I still do that and all other design type stuff in Photoshop. I played with Krita once and it seems like a good Manga Studio alternative that’s totally free and probably worth a look!

FAQ2FAQ3

I draw with an old Wacom Intuos 4 that I got used for around $300 like 8 years ago. They take a bit to get the hang of but with some practice there’s nothing you can’t do on them.

FAQ4

Even if you’re not an artist yourself, I hope it was interesting to see how I do things! Don’t hesitate to ask if you’d like me to into greater detail about any of this, I love talking about this stuff.

Until next time!

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.

How to Paint Space


Truly, my enthusiasm for stars holds no bounds. And, now, you too can become a star enthusiast!

Follow this quick star-painting tutorial and you’ll be bestowed the illustrious rank of Junior Star Enthusiast, a noble title secretly desired by all.

And be sure to share your efforts! I’d love to see what you do with this.

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.

Where Do You Find The Time?

The short answer is: I don’t do much else!

Another short, but hopefully more helpful answer: you can’t find time, you make time.

But seriously, I don’t really do much else. I don’t watch TV and I don’t play video games (or, at least, not nearly as much as I used to.) When I’m not at the day job and while my children are asleep, I write and I draw. I work.

Maybe that makes me a workaholic, but if that’s true, it’s done wonders for my creative output.

And that’s what I mean by making time. If this is what you really want to do — what you need to do — you make time. Something else has to give. Maybe you don’t want to give up watching your favorite shows or perusing your favorite memes on reddit, and that’s fine! I’m not suggesting you give up all of your favorite past-times and devote yourself entirely and exclusively to your craft, but I am suggesting that maybe you take a look at how you spend your time on a daily basis. Maybe, as a random example, you spend some time each night checking Facebook. Let’s say two hours of Liking pictures of newborns and arguing with distant reletives. What if you were to limit yourself to an hour-and-a-half instead, and do a little drawing or writing with that free half hour you just made? Anything at all, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. In fact, go in knowing that it won’t be. And that’s okay! Plenty of my drawings fail to meet my unrealistically high expectations and never see the light of day, but it’s never a waste of time.

I know this is all easier said than done. Time management and self-discipline don’t come easy and take a while to build, but this is how you do it. You start slow. Don’t be too hard on yourself by trying to do too much too fast. Try and do at least a little each day, even when you’re not feeling especially creative. Making that initial effort, however small, makes all the difference.

And let me tell you, that knowledge that at the end of the day, you made something that didn’t exist before? That feels pretty amazing.

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.

How Inktober Saved My Life

I’m a cartoonist, primarily. I write and tell stories. Or, at least, that’s what I aspire to. However, I’ve lately been distracted from my storytelling by trying to become what I call a “popular internet artist type person.” I even made business cards!

popular

But let’s back up to January 2016. I had just wrapped up my webcomic of eight years in an effort to get away from gag-a-day comics and focus entirely on more longform storytelling. I wanted my next graphic novel to be a short story compilation, so that’s where I put all of my energy.

Comics can take a while to produce, and in between short story releases, I always had little to say or show to my followers on social media. I’d post a few in-progress shots every now and then, sure, but they were few and far between. Once the comic was finally done and online, there’d be a sudden burst of “I made a thing! I made a thing! Everyone look! I made a thing!” and then it’s back to radio silence as I begin work on the next comic. But not just radio silence from me, silence from everyone. The comics I had been working on for weeks and weeks were getting little to no attention.

This was exceedingly frustrating for me.

I work for weeks, sometimes months, on a project, release it into the wild, receive some gratification here and there, and then nothing. I realize that that’s not exactly a new problem — the difficulty of being noticed as a classic struggle for artists throughout the ages — but something needed to change. I wasn’t seeing the growth I was hoping to see, especially considering how much work I was putting into these comics and what I left behind in order to pursue this new direction in my life.

It was a huge bummer! I was still proud of my work — I felt that each story was better than the last — but I began to question if I had made the right decision. If this new path that I had set myself on was the right one.

And then Inktober 2016 happened. Inktober is a yearly event created by Jake Parker that encourages artists of all skill levels to simply make a pen and ink drawing every day for a month. If you’ve heard of national novel writing month, this is similar. I always missed it every year, but this time I had just bought some new pens that I was eager to try out and they just happened to come in the mail on the first day of Inktober.

So I gave it a shot! I was still working on my big comic projects, but every night I’d start with a quick Inktober drawing and post it online. All of a sudden, when before my social media posts were at times weeks or months apart, my Twitter and Facebook followers were being updated with new drawings every single day.

Collage

In addition to the new skills and discipline I learned from drawing every day in a format I was inexperienced in, the effect on my social media networks was astounding and practically immediate. The number of people that liked and followed my work grew and grew. It turns out that posting daily content is a great way to build an audience! Who knew?

I was finally seeing growth. My work was slowly but steadily getting more attention and I was building relationships with some pretty rad people that I never would have met otherwise. It felt like everything suddenly made sense. I’m not the most social person and I had never put the work into building my social media presence, so why was I so surprised when I tweeted about my comics and got little to no response? In my attempt at focusing entirely on my comics, I had neglected my chosen medium for publishing those comics.

I didn’t stop my daily doodles after Inktober ended, and I don’t plan to any time soon. Does doing them take a chunk away from my already incredibly limited time? Yes, to some extent my comic output might have suffered a bit, but in the long run I believe it will be worth it. Building and sustaining a following that truly cares about me and my work far outweighs any time I’ve lost drawing my next graphic novel. Now when I release a new comic, I actually get more of a response from the small yet formidable audience I’ve managed to build. I cannot emphasize enough how much better of a place I am in now, both personally and artistically.

And I’m having fun drawing again! My drawing time has traditionally always been dedicated to projects and work and, as strange as it may sound, drawing purely for fun is actually a fairly new experience for me. Over the past few months I’ve produced the best work I’ve ever done and I’ve been having a blast the entire time.

And it’s all because I started a challenge to draw every day.

DrawEverDay

Thanks again to Jake Parker’s #inktober for being awesome and turning my life around. You can check out his work here. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you all on Monday when we’ll be talking about time and the ever-present dread it holds over us all!

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.