projectpoppet

projectpoppet

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My name is Lisa and I am a web cartoonist. Good grief, I sound like I'm writing to a self help group or auditioning for the part of Charlie Brown in a retconned Peanuts comic strip. Sometimes, I feel that I am in a way.

I've helped write comic strips for other artists, but in October of 2009, I decided it was time to stop reading and start doing. My first venture took the form of a fumetti, or photo comic I called Project Poppet. The premise is a group of small knitted dolls causing mischief within my human sized one bedroom apartment. Along the way, they meet two toy frankenbunnies I made. I made my poppets of leftover yarn from various knitting projects. The comic contains one strip gags as well as longer story arcs. This past August, I opt to take my doodles of chibi figures, often portraits of my player characters in tabletop games I played to the level of a second comic I called Goober Glade. This takes place in a magical kingdom where an adventuring party bumbles about to save a princess. This comic participated in the 24 Hour Comics Day event.

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Zephyr and Reginald: Minions for Hire Cover courtesy of Dandelion Studios

Comic Review – Dandelion Studios

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I had the opportunity to read a few titles from an independent comic book studio based out of Osterville, MA, called Dandelion Studios. The studio is run by Rick and Gynn Silva with a talented crew of writers and artists.

The titles that I’ve read, Kaeli and Rebecca, Stone, Perils of Picorna, and Zephyr and Reginald: Minions for Hire, were very enjoyable reads.

Kaeli and Rebecca cover courtesy of Dandelion Studios

The first title I read is the first issue of a fantasy adventure story entitled, Kaeli and Rebecca, written by Rick Silva and illustrated by Katrina Joyner. The first issue, “Reflections” has the feel of a fable. Two women, a fey priestess and a human warrior, seek out the old manor of a baron that has since become an evil wizard. Despite the feeling of foreboding in the direct area of the manor, the stories of travelers disappearing after seeking shelter within and the shunning from townspeople upon hearing of the womens’ destination, they explore the manor and discover that its many mirrors are not just a reflection of the wizard’s vanity.

Much like the portals within the mirrors, the reader is sucked into the story. The heroines conflict in personal philosophy, especially with respect to death, yet their camraderie is genuine, seen as they work together and eventually pursue the wizard.

I liked Joyner’s artwork. It worked very well with the story. Very loose but strong in style, she excels in figural studies, giving life to not only the main characters, but the sylph-like creatures of the mirror portal.

The second title I read is an epic fantasy and to a degree a coming of age story called, Stone, written by Rick Silva and illustrated by Alice and Vincent Veidt. This book was my favorite due to its heroine, Donna Stone. She is an aging and overweight traveler ambushed by a gang of thieves fooled by her matronly appearance. With her superior fighting skills, Donna is revealed to be a great fighter well known to this gang, who turn out to be a band of rebels still loyal to their kingdom home, Estania. Forced into exile by a greedy dictator, these rebels enlist Donna’s help in overthrowing him and getting their home back.

Donna Stone is the type of woman that does not bend to any man, yet her years of experience allow her to advise the rebels as well as aid as a fighter. What I liked best about this book is how legends are used. The youngest of the rebel band idolizes one female warrior, yet Donna gives the real story of this female warrior’s demise, adding depth as well as wisdom to the legend. This gives the reader a sense of perspective to the real people behind the icon. The linear artwork of Alice and Vincent Veidt gave each character a distinct and likeable appearance. Even a dictator was nice to look at as he tried to drug Donna’s wine!

The third book I read was the first of the adventure series, Perils of Picorna, written by Amy Kaczmarowski and Rick Silva and illustrated by Missy Pena. It follows the life of Picorna, a young apprentice cleric who was orphaned by a plague and rescued by a rising star in the Church, who falls into intrigue and peril. Picorna is sent to investigate a city church after a key church adviser turns up missing.

This is probably the catchiest of the stories that I’ve read from Dandelion Studios. The reader is drawn from the initial scene where an assasin is fought to the (literal and figurative) cliffhanger and the end of the book, not unlike serial adventure stories popular in the 1930′s and 40′s. Missy Pena’s anime style of illustration might not be what comes to mind when thinking of cliffhanger adventure stories of that era, but it works very well. This is a series that could be very enjoyable to children as well as adults.

The last two books I read is the story of a pair of super villain minions called, Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire, written by Rick Silva & Gynn Stella and illustrated by Gynn Silva. Unlike the other books, this superhero tale is not set in a mystical fantasy land, but the very real state of New Jersey, and its two antiheroes are just a couple of bright programmers, engineers and overall gadget men who just want to hold down a job in their respective fields. This is a little hard to do with their social flaws and more so after one boss meets his demise after his grand scheme. They’re minions, they work for the bad guys, but deep down, they are just a couple of guys making a living….and trying to keep the boss off their tails when a scheme is thwarted by a band of heroines. The heroines in question are very cute girls in the eyes of our minions, one even forming a strange and unlikely captive/informant bond with the two. To tell the minion’s story is an unusual direction, and Gynn and Rick Silva’s storytelling make it work well.

Gynn Silva is a strong illustrator and my favorite drawings are of the animals. The Minion’s cat, who one would think might just sit in a lap or otherwise just be in the background, just pops out on the page. There is a sense of realism in a giant spider robot meant to attack a major city. I especially liked the back cover of the second issue where the cat attacks the spider, scaled down to equal size. Any cat lover could enjoy it.

When I read the books, I couldn’t believe how good they were. It has been awhile since I’ve been dead tired, but unable to stop reading. I didn’t turn in until I finished, Stone. I reread it the next day-for professional purposes, of course! At the same time, writer’s block hit me like a ton of bricks. Conveying this view to review form started to prove difficult, as I want to interest (and direct) readers to these books. Hopefully, I was able to do so in this review. I look forward to more titles.

You can visit Dandelion Studios online, or, if you are going to be in Stamford, CT, anytime soon, you can visit in person at ComiCONN on August 27th.

Image Courtesy of riotnrrdcomics.com

Webcomic Review – Riot Nrrd

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Image Courtesy of riotnrrdcomics.com

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Convention season has been getting rather hectic as of late. Personal issues and business aside, I have wanted to review some webcomics, and as I stated in my last post, I am going to do it.

That said, onward. The first comic I’m reviewing is Riot Nrrd, a comic that is not only a joy for me to read, but one that should prove more than enjoyable to all Nerds out there in Babeland.

Riot Nrrd is the creation of R.J. Edwards, a self-professed nerd who likes to geek out about subjects such as anthropology, linguistics and of course webcomics. The story is focused on a small group of college-aged geek girls from all walks of life, sexual preferences and identities. Edwards states that her comic is aimed at nerds from many walks of life and geekiness, and the prejudices they might face, be it from a disability, race, sexual identity or even fat phobias. While the story focuses on the romantic relationships, friendships and all the awkward and comic moments therein, she also highlights the different levels of geekiness each of the characters have, be it one’s first introduction to the boffer LARP lifestyle, to the planned webcomic featuring female superheroes that are not of the typical swimsuit model variety featured in DC or Marvel comic book titles, but genetically altered and powered roller derby players. What is not to love about that?

Edwards shows a cool angle on how the various fandoms and geekdoms develop in a character. My favorite example of this, as well as the strip that made me into a fangirl myself, is “The Metaphorical Puppyverse” where a main character, Wren, compares following favored television series to owning a house full of active and messy puppies. With the number of TV reviews on this and other sites, fans as well as blog readers and contributors alike can relate!

The artwork is done in Photoshop save for the first two strips that were made using the GIMP program. Cute and very linear, the style reminds me of the art in “Dr. Katz” at first glance. Reading onward, I saw that each character is very distinct, giving the story more realism and credibility.

This is a slice of life comic with a geeky twist, but what sets Riot Nrrd apart from other geek stories are the different races, ages, sexual identities, sizes and disabilities of the characters along with the prejudices they may encounter from time to time in the course of their lives and friendships. All the same, these characters are very likeable and very real geeks, the kind of geeks and people we would definitely hang out with if our paths were to cross!

ConBust and Pending Reviews

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This past weekend, I exhibited at ConBust, located at Smith College in Northampton, MA. This is a small convention, but had a lot of fantastic artists and guests such as Randall Munroe from the webcomic XKCD and Mike “Mookie” Terracciano creator of Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire.

What stood out for me, especially as a first time exhibitor, was how friendly and accessible the con staff was. The Artist Alley staff came around often asking if we needed anything, and this was not just a glass of water, but help carrying merchandise and other goods. I don’t normally see this at larger conventions.  Good grief, I’ve had experiences where staff didn’t even know where the Artist Alley was in the convention center. Some of those same staff were rude, treating me as though I were a bother for a simple question! I think it was experiences such as this that caused me to be blown me away when I arrived at the convention greeted by staff offering help to carry bags.

Granted, a neighbor and I did ask for cabana boys or girls when first asked if we needed anything….neither were available, but one can only ask so much and do we really need cabana boys or girls on a windy day in March?

I did hand out Nerds in Babeland buttons and cards as there were web comic artists, both as guests and exhibitors, as well as a few attendees. I do want to start reviewing web comics and fairly soon. I have to recover a little from this weekend, but I know I have some archives to look through.

Overall, I highly recommend this convention, both as an attendee and an exhibitor, whether you are a first time artist or have been around the con circuit for awhile. The atmosphere is relaxed, the staff is fantastic, and you will meet a lot of friendly people.

You can find out more about ConBust, including dates for next year at the following website:
http://sophia.smith.edu/conbust/index.html

Webcomicry and Promotion, or Get Some Frakking Rest!

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As I’ve mentioned before, one good way for any artist to network is to hit the convention circuit.

I’ve been sticking fairly close to home, but not every craft fair, convention or comic event is located in Connecticut, so I often go out of state.

I’ve had positive experiences overall, however, I have had long drives, and for any of you that taken long road trips, you really start to feel the cramps in your rear and even your leg after a certain point. Sometimes, the trip itself can drain your energy more so than any activity at the convention proper.

At times, the check in process, getting to your booth or table can get trying, especially if you are in a bigger venue and you don’t get a map. If this is a high volume event, you’ll likely get a lot of traffic at your table be it sales, questions, or an admirer wanting to talk about your work. Doing this nonstop throughout the weekend can give you bursts of adrenaline, but I and others have joked about the amount of caffeine and sugar required to keep going.

As we all know, caffeine will lead to a crash of the body’s internal servers eventually.

This past month, I’ve had two back to back conventions, both involving long drives. I attended one this past weekend and will attend another at the end of the month. My sleep cycle has not been the best, especially since you may have to replenish your stock of merchandise….not always so easy when you’re more on the fiber arts side of art.

My advice is this: Learn to pace yourself. Get a sense of how much merchandise you’ll need. Keep coffee on hand, but don’t overdo it, especially if you’re driving.
Most importantly, try to get as much rest as you can, before, during and after the event.

If you start to dream like L in this piece of fan art I created for a small series, it may be time to lay off the sweets and stick to healthier snacks during the convention!

L's Pastry Dream from my

What do I do with my webcomic idea: Promotion

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You have your web comic opus ready to upload and publish to the world. You’ve decided on the web space you’re going to utilize to get it out there.

You’ve uploaded and published. Now what?

The World Wide Web these days is what it sounds like. World wide, and very highly populated. Now that your comic is out there, how do you wish to promote it if you want to go that route.

There is nothing wrong with starting small. Tell your friends, be it via word of mouth, or even through your favorite online community or social networking site. Even if you don’t like Facebook invites, and I often don’t in excess, don’t be afraid to make a page for your comic and invite friends to join. Some may recommend it to others. In that vein, you can also put a small button to ‘like’ the comic, but it would only take the reader to the Facebook page.

Join like-minded communities and forums online. Accounts are usually free, and you can promote, and even learn a few things through online discussion. I’d advise against too much promotion of your own work if it detracts from a different topic or just as basic netiquette. Some are ranking sites, such as The Webcomic List and Top Webcomics where comics are judged by member votes or by site hits. Some will allow members to become featured comics for a small fee. It’s worth looking into if you want a little extra exposure starting out. There are web comic groups on Facebook among other social networking sites or the option create one yourself as well.

With convention season starting for me tomorrow at Genericon, I have to point out that people like to see a face with the artist. Go to Comic and Anime conventions in your area. Depending on the event and venue, purchasing table space is not too cumbersome. If you want to cut costs and start out small, attend smaller conventions, many of which originated and grew from college anime clubs. In some cases, registration is included with your table space, and inexpensive at the smaller venues. One thing I’ve noticed at Genericon and conventions like it is a very relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. From there, you might to venture to a larger venue such as Otakon or Comic-con. If you want to vend at conventions, do a quick search for events in your area via Google. Wikipedia also has listings. From there, look at the convention website for artist information. It may take a little searching, but most have what you’re looking for or a contact email.

When it comes to promotion, the most important aspect is knowing your product. Don’t be afraid to talk about your comic, what inspired you to create your story and characters, be it online or in person.

m4s0n501

What do I do with my webcomic idea: Web Space

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So you are an artist with a vision. You decide to tell your story in comic form. You want to share your vision with cyberspace.
So, how to go about it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read web comics on and off for the past ten years or so. They’ve been around in one form or another for the past fifteen years. I sat next to an artist who has first published his comic via geocities in 1997 at one convention. I’ve read a few strips such as MegaTokyo, and Twisted Kaiju Theater, who have their own web domain space and started around 2000.

There are ways and means to attain webspace, but one of the first things to consider is what space you will reserve on the world wide web.

If you go to the the webcomic list and take a look at the featured comic sections, the links will direct you to the profile page or to the comic itself. Some artists use blogging sites, such as Blogspot or Word Press. Both of these are easy to use and have a variety of templates. You can also sign up for free, which is always good if you are starting out, not sure of where you want to take your story, or you just want something simple and easy to use. Word Press also offers software called Comic Press which can be downloaded and offers a variety of layouts. I haven’t used it myself, but the comics look pretty clean, simple and effective. Some, an I’m in this category, purchase domain space through providers such as FatCow. You pay an annual fee, but you have to option of using templates, or programing the way you want your web page to look via HTML or XML or however you wish if you are a more advanced designer. Some sites also work with Word Press or other popular blogging sites. Look at the package deals offered. How much bandwidth space can you get? How many email addressed can you create? What kind of templates are offered? Do you have the options for e-commerce or online store space?

Whichever option you take, always shop around for what is best for you, and your wallet. You work well when your web space is easy to work with. I know that there is nothing more frustrating than finishing a strip and being unable to publish because you are having a hard time with your web account!

Web Cartooning by the Signs

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I am sure we have all heard some hoopla regarding changes in the western zodiac as we all know it. Up is down, Cancer is now Gemini, Scorpio is now Libra and left is east.
Time’s website put out the following which my Pisces friend sent to me:
New Zodiac Sign Dates: Earth Rotation Changes Horoscope Signs.
Just as a few of my friends from all walks of the zodiac wheel were either scratching their heads or declaring horoscopes bulldink across the board, my Taurus friend posted the following:
Don’t Worry, your Zodiac Sign is not Wrong.

I’m a happy Scorpio…well, as happy as a Scorpio can be on an average day sans coffee. Seeing the buzz on Facebook and even in general conversation, it hit me that regardless of any planetary shift or what may or may not have to change in the newspaper horoscope section, that we have love by the signs, career by the signs, but I have yet to see cartooning by the signs.
I seek to change this. Now that we have our sun signs and astrological shifts back in place, I am going to attempt to show how one might create a web comic based on his or her astrological sign. I’ll state for the record, I am at best an amateur astrologer.
That said:

Aries:
My comic is the first of it’s kind. I know it’s a fantasy RPG adventure, but hey, let’s put a locomotive in that panel? Maybe some ninjas while I’m at it!

Taurus:
Soon as I’m settled in my comfy easychair, I am going to finish and upload this panel…maybe tomorrow?

Gemini:
New topic, new comic. Now, what kind of punchline can I deliver with that sledgehammer?

Cancer:
I’m going to need some alone time to get this comic finished and get better flow for that story arc.

Leo:
I’m going to have to showcase this comic at a convention…a big one. I know! I’ll go around the tables as my own main character! I’ll look goooood doing it too!

Virgo:
Drawing board: check
Drafting Pencil: check
Micron pens: check
T-Square: check
Everything in its place!

Libra:
I need to get banner balanced just right. The web page and art sshould look simple, yet aesthetically pleasing. Hmm…maybe I should get a second person on this, maybe a web designer or editor?

Scorpio:
I must be the best….who’s that other cartoonist and how did s/he get my readership? That’s it. Conventions and more XML and a darker story arc will rule the panels.

Sagittarius:
I’m going to have to draw this comic while on the road. How snarky can I make the punchline this week?

Capricorn:
I need to be at least 10 comics ahead of myself. Maybe more than that? I should get cracking!

Aquarius:
What can I do to make a more experimental comic strip? Maybe make this comic not a comic at all, but my illustrated spider monkey ninja opus…..

Pisces:
This comic needs more haiku. Maybe generate a few soul searching questions to the readers? That works!

Introduction from the New Kid

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My name is Lisa and I am a web cartoonist.

Good grief, I sound like I’m writing to a self help group or auditioning for the part of Charlie Brown in a retconned Peanuts comic strip. Sometimes, I feel that I am in a way.

I’ve read comic book titles such as X-Men and Spider Man from childhood. When I discovered that people published comic strips on the internet, it felt like a whole new door was opened in my college experience. I still revisit the first webcomic I read, http://www.coolcatstudio.com/ from time to time even as I devour the Twisted Kaiju Theaters and Something Positives of the web world.

I’ve helped write comic strips for other artists, but in October of 2009, I decided it was time to stop reading and start doing. My first venture took the form of a fumetti, or photo comic I called Project Poppet. The premise is a group of small knitted dolls causing mischief within my human sized one bedroom apartment. Along the way, they meet two toy frankenbunnies I made. I made my poppets of leftover yarn from various knitting projects. The comic contains one strip gags as well as longer story arcs. This past August, I opt to take my doodles of chibi figures, often portraits of my player characters in tabletop games I played to the level of a second comic I called Goober Glade. This takes place in a magical kingdom where an adventuring party bumbles about to save a princess. This comic participated in the 24 Hour Comics Day event.

When contributing to this blog, I want to do more than engage in shameless self promotion. I do that at various sci-fi, anime and other conventions. What I would like to do is show a bit of the creative process. Maybe you want to start your own comic? I’d like to inform, but if you get a laugh out of the writings, that’s good too.  I would like to review comics as well. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Until then, I will leave you with one of my favorite early photos from my comic, Project Poppet.

Existential Booda

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