As you’ve all noticed (unless you’re reading this on an RSS feed), the site has gone through a nice, sleek redesign. You all have Joenis to thank for that, creator of L.A.W.L.S. Joenis has a great aesthetic eye, and I highly recommend him to anyone looking for a good web designer.
You may also have noticed that the site moves a lot faster these days. Well, that’s because I’ve purchased a Virtual Dedicated Server. I apologize to everyone who had to put up with the slow connection all these months. You’re a real trooper if you still showed up every week to read the comic.
On a side note, Comeback Kings #1 will be a bit late, but not because of me. I had the artwork done months in advance. It’ll probably ship around the end of April.
Anyhoo, that’s about it! Enjoy the new site!
Hey, y’all! Here’s a quick rundown of all the new things I’m sure you’re DYING to know.
- First, the new comic I mentioned. Comeback Kings #1 (in stores March 30th), written by Matt Sullivan and Gabe Guarente and illustrated by yours truly. It’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Celebrity Rehab, only the celebrities are all dead icons. The art style is slightly different from what you see in Tails; I used digital inks along with zip-a-tone. Not my usual M.O., but it was the perfect fit for this concept (and you’ll still see elements of my aesthetic approach and storytelling). Now go out to your local comic shop and ORDER them to get you a copy. Shake a fist full of cash if you have to.
- Ninja Warrior aka Sasuke. Have any of you ever seen this shit before? And I say shit in a good way. It is the fucking craziest shit I’ve ever seen. For those who’ve never heard of the show, it’s the ultimate – literally, the ULTIMATE – competition show that pits man against obstacle. It’s like watching human beings trying to conquer a Super Mario stage brought to life. The reason I’m salivating here is because my fiance and I recently discovered/obsessed over this show. I can’t get enough of it!
- Quick Knicks tangent: MELO, BABY!!! MELO!!!
- Sorry to anyone on the RSS feed who has been receiving old posts. I’m not sure why that is happening or if it was only one or two people. If anyone has any clue, feel free to hit me up.
- Everyone seems to be enjoying the new storyline, and the new ‘villain’, Jordan. Sigh, it wasn’t so long ago when all of you wanted to clench your fists and give Ethan a one-two punch. My, how times have changed. Just to elaborate, since some of you have expressed interest: YES, Jordan is slightly based on a couple of old classmates + a few unnamed comic artists. I’ll let you figure out who those artists might be.
God, winter is here. I’m not sure how everyone else feels about the snow, but I can’t wait till it’s springtime again. I’d rather sneeze than shiver. Here are a couple of updates for all you readers out there:
- Yours truly has recently gotten engaged. Sorry, ladies, I’m officially off the market. (Can you smell my sarcasm?) Needless to say, I’m stoked. My Fiance, Carol Jean, has been my biggest supporter and my biggest inspiration these past couple of years. (Cliche, but true) She really pushed me to work harder and develop into a better artist. She even encouraged me to pursue the Crusader Cat storyline (I guess you can say she’s sorta like an unofficial editor. Unofficial meaning I don’t have to pay her). So, to everyone who enjoyed this recent storyline, you have Carol to thank. And if you hated it? Well, tough shit. Which brings us to…
- Chapter 9 officially caps off the 2nd storyarc. A lot of you seemed to enjoy it while others seemed a bit befuddled. You guys didn’t honestly believe I would just dump the protagonist into some wacky super-hero world, didya? At any rate, the next storyarc will be a bit more serious in tone (not too serious, mind you), and will touch on some mature subjects. Stay tuned…
- I recently finished some cool illustrations for Streaming Media Magazine, which in turn was implemented into an even COOLER promotional motion comic! The megalomaniac in me absolutely digs this. The humble illustrator in me digs it as well. Go give it a peek and leave a comment.
- (Not really an update, more of a reflection) I was never a fan of The Walking Dead comic; I always found the tone and pacing to be mismatched from its respective genre. I could never sincerely believe that Tony Moore’s cartoony, Art Adams-esque characters were actually scared; nor could I really feel absorbed by Charlie Adlard’s serviceable, albeit rushed, draftsmanship. Of course, nothing against either artist, but Moore, for instance, has proven that he’s most effective when handling more ‘fun’ material, i.e. Fear Agent.
That being said, I’m really enjoying the TV adaptation. It helps that Frank Darabont is behind the wheel. Say what you will about the guy’s love affair with Stephen King, but that guy knows how to make an entertaining program.
That’s all for now, folks. Stay warm and be sure to root for the Knicks this season! Later!
Everyone here has already caught wind of the infamous game developer controversy (who wrote a blog encouraging others to troll for cheap art), right? Since I proudly make my living as a freelancer, I refrained from making any immediate emotional outburst. Well, I guess it’s my turn to get on the soapbox. (I haven’t read every single blogger’s response to this story, so I apologize if I accidentally plagiarize someone)
The sad reality for many freelance artists is the mediocre salary. I learned from Collen Doran’s blog that the average artist earns about $15K a year. That really isn’t much. Most depend on a day job to make ends meet. That’s why I can’t blame a freelancer for jumping at any opportunity, even if it undercuts me. Don’t get me wrong, I hate any employer who tries to weasel his/her way out of paying a decent wage, but I know what it’s like to be desperate. I’ve been there before, trust me.
Why do struggling artists get exploited so much? Well, there’s your first answer:
1.) They’re struggling. The stereotype of the starving artist isn’t just a stereotype, it’s an accurate portrayal. I’ve run across potential clients who literally think that ‘exposure’ is a legitimate form of compensation. How many times have you heard someone offering ‘exposure’ as compensation for designing a website? Or tailoring a suit? But hey, you’re a struggling artist; exposure is all the payment you’ll ever need. I paid my landlord in exposure once. Something about an eviction followed…
That leads right into the second point:
2.) Art is still viewed as a hobby, especially cartooning and comic art, rather than a serious, profitable craft. Two years ago I was visiting friends in Amsterdam and had dinner with several couch-surfers. They asked me what I did for a living, to which I responded, “I’m a cartoonist.”
“Oh…that’s pretty hard to break into.”
I held back my indignation, handed them my business card, and replied, “No, I’m an actual cartoonist.” The rest of the meal was pleasant.
3.) Artists are treated like a dime-a-dozen. “If an artist doesn’t want the work, then they don’t have to accept the work; stop whining about it!” How many times have we all heard that argument? That’s the conventional belief out there: artists are disposable, they’re interchangeable. (In fact, that’s how all of Corporate America views workers, so it’s not specific only to artists)
4.) Most people are just plain ignorant to how much an artist should actually earn, least of all the artists themselves. I’ve run into artists who have no idea how much they should charge (as emphasized by the infamous game developer), and I’ve run into potential clients whose jaws plummet to the ground when they hear my rates.
“You make THAT much?”
No, sir, I don’t make that much. I make an honest, decent living because like everyone else in this country, I have bills to pay and a belly to feed. Just because I make more than $2 a page doesn’t mean I’m rich.
Here is my response to each of these 4 problems:
1.) Be professional. I’ve talked about this in previous blogs entries: you need to hone your business skills. This may seem obvious, but you can’t believe how many freelancers I’ve known who are completely unaware of proper business etiquette. When you’re dealing with a client face-to-face, be eloquent, be affable, exert confidence, make eye contact, don’t laugh at your own jokes. Be sure to listen, but don’t be too timid to speak.
A personal website is important. You are a business, and all businesses need a good website to function. I never went to business school, but I can’t imagine a company saying, “We don’t have a website set up? Eh, fuck it.”
2.) Emphasize that what you have is an indispensible skill, not just a hobby. Remember, they need you more than the other way around. The average person couldn’t draw a table lamp if their life depended on it, let alone a 22 page comic. Don’t let anyone trivialize your profession. That’s why I seldom use the term ‘comic’ and ‘drawing’ while communicating with clients. I use the term ‘illustration’. It just sounds better, don’t you agree? Like a real grownup.
3.) Gather as many good references as you possibly can. You wouldn’t spend a fortune on eBay if the seller had terrible ratings, would you? Build good relationships with your clients and allow them to speak for you. It’s easier on a freelancer site such as guru.com or elance.com, where feedback is monitored. But a client list with contact info works just as well. “Call these people up; I’m sure they’ll have nothing but great things to say about my services.” You are not just a dime-a-dozen.
4.) When asked about pricing, have very, very specific numbers planned out. For instance, I break down my prices into categories: sketches, character layouts, full pages, storyboards, covers, poster size illustrations, and so on and so forth. Make sure it’s descriptive yet clear. Make sure the prices are not too low and not too high. Yes, there is such a thing as over-bidding. A client will be immediately turned off if the price is too exorbitant, and start looking for someone else. Plus, it’ll look weak if you make a steep price slash in order to accommodate a budget.
On that note, also have very clear payment options laid out. It’s good to be flexible when it comes to payment, but not too lax. You don’t want to be stuck with a large bill for months. Make sure that all the payment options work for you.
That’s all for now. If any of you have any other theories and solutions to go along with these, please feel free to leave a comment.