From the archives. This goes back quite a few years. Before social media. And iPhones. How did I manage to create a regular comic strip with a full-time day job?
In truth it took a few years. Little by little. The style developed from pen and brush inking techniques — more realistic illustrations — to Sharpie® marker and Sakura Micron pen illustrations — more graphic and cartoonish. The intent was to streamline the process and art style in order to work quicker. However, the reality is that the graphic, cartoonish style takes just as much time as pen and brush. Just in different applications.
The character remains unnamed — loosely referred to as a young artist. Dressed with black turtleneck and unkept hair. The comic strip ran for maybe a year before the newspaper ended publication. A lot of newspapers and magazines shuddered that year.
I return to the “young artist.” To practice art work. A creative workout. Similar to physical fitness routines. An effort to keep the motor skills of drawing and illustration in shape.
Recent practice comic strips created remain unpublished. Private exercises. Not published in an independent newspaper. Not for public show on Instagram. Or Facebook. I do not have accounts on those social media platforms.
I may share them here. This has become a digital repository of material I find in old art portfolios and sketch books.
After a long sabbatical, Hudson and Heather Stillwater return to print in the comic strip “Strange Familiar Place,” a slice-of-life drama. Previously unpublished comic strips of “Strange Familiar Place” are now available in limited distribution in the fall issue of Comic Stroll, a publication of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society (SECNCS).
One of the SECNCS members provided me copies of Comic Stroll on Monday. Later this week, copies will be distributed at the annual SECNCS meeting as well as VA and childrens hospitals in the region.
A while back, I mentioned that the first installment of my creative non-fiction comic is complete and pending publication. The first installment is titled “Higgins: Inside the Box.” Last weekend I completed half of the second installment (four strips or roughly 12 panels) which is the conclusion to the story arch, “Higgins: Inside the Box.” Then I began scripting a 5-part comic strip for a third installment which features a story line about this event. There isn’t an official title to this one. However, “Higgins: Outside the Box” seems like a logical progression.
Last Tuesday was the SECNCS meeting and fellow artists encouraged me regarding my inking techniques and suggested some tips on lettering comic strips. One artist, who is regularly featured in the Rapid River magazine, recommended that dialogue text be all caps and narrative text be upper and lower case. The recommendation is already being implemented beginning with the second installment.
This endeavor of combining illustration and creative non-fiction, have inspired me to study the poet William Blake. The illuminated text is not a new media; many ancient manuscripts were illuminated. For example, The Book of Kells is famously known for its illuminated text. Years ago, I studied under a calligrapher who taught me the secret of the Celtic knot work and spirals represented in the Book of Kells. The discipline of the knot-work has served me well, though not in my recent illustrations.
But William Blake illuminated his own poems and printed his own collections with the help of his wife. It helped that he was trained as an engraver and went on to apply his trade for book and magazine publishers. Being an innovator in his own right, he applied his trade to illuminate and print his own literature. Like William Blake, I studied graphic design (the modern day digital engravers if you will) and know how to produce books and magazines for clients. I wonder what William Blake would think of creative non-fiction comics?
Previous posts on creative non-fiction comics:    
Last week I sent the first installment of a narrative non-fiction comic strip storyline to an editor. I just received an email from him this morning. He writes: “The comics are bitchin’ good. Excellent work.”
Previous posts on creative non-fiction comics: