Why I draw

I haven’t made a blog entry in a long long time. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I keep myself busy, and drawing a panel always has priority over these things. I do a lot of reflection, a lot of it inside my own head as I walk to and from work, but I rarely write anything down. But I do need to do that from time to time.

I love drawing comics. I always did. When I was four years old and living on Cape Breton Island I drew a comic strip called “Krazy Kat”, a sort of knock off of Tom and Jerry which would always end up with someone saying “That cat is crazy,” and someone else saying “Of course! That’s Krazy Kat!” I didn’t have access to a photocopier at the time so I just drew a dozen copies of the same strip and handed them out to the neighbours, all of whom didn’t seem to mind me ringing their doorbells and handing a piece of paper with a badly drawn cat on it.

This continued throughout elementary and junior high school. In elementary school I made two comic books — a Star Wars parody and a Choose Your Own Adventure comic book. In Junior High I did an Indiana Jones parody and a New Teen Titans parody book. Then in high school, I joined the school newspaper and made comics there. Soon, I made a friend in a nearby town and together we did a horror anthology zine called “LOST” which I did comics and he did short horror stories. Soon the zine had contributions from others across the continent and continued for ten issues. Finally, in university, I did a comic called “no name comics” for the Imprint; of the dozen comics I drew only two got published, so that was kind of a failure.

It was during this time I drew comics not for anything else but the love of drawing comics. I had no belief that anything I did would ever really amount to anything bigger than the pieces of paper the comics were drawn on. I knew LOST would never be anything more than a zine that was traded for other zines in Factsheet Five. But I remember the late night copy and paste sessions with Adam where it would be late and any crazy editorial decision was OK. Then the next day we would go to Kinkos, and soon we would have a folded, stapled, REAL piece of work in our hands. Who cared if it was successful? It was REAL, and that was success enough for us.

I got busy and I gave up drawing comics. I still drew though. I had a little watercolor set I would take places and draw what I saw. It was fun and relaxing. But after the failure of no name comics I really didn’t have an urge to make a story. But that was before some asshole introduced me to anime and fucked up my life.

In 1997 a roommate gave me a copy of the first six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and told me to watch it. I didn’t at first, but he was insistent and was feeling bad for initially agreeing to something I had little or no interest in but just for the sake on conversation. I put the tapes in the VCR and I thought it was stupid until the fifth episode. Then I was hooked. Then I found out there was a manga as well, so I had to seek that out and then I was back into comics, but this time only Japanese manga.

At the time I never really heard of webcomics, but I was inspired to make my own comic, a copy of the style I was falling in love with. I decided to do it the only way I thought it could be done, using all traditional materials — copyproof blue pencil, Hunt 102 pens, Rapidographs, and Bainbridge card stock. Over the course of a couple of months I finished the first comic, “A Heart Made of Glass”. While I was doing this, I learned about webcomics and joined the community, and soon I was doing only webcomics.

But the title of this is “Why I draw”. And suddenly, I realized the reasons I was doing it this time were different. I wasn’t doing it simply for the love anymore, I was thinking I could somehow be successful at it. Watching people in the webcomics community getting successful put me in a competitive mode and soon I was waiting for my turn to get job offers and recognition. I had made THAT my reason why I drew.

After a few years, nothing materialized. Everyone I knew was getting some comic related job or something but I wasn’t. I was stuck. This feeling was dragging me down and affecting my work. Soon updates were spotty. I didn’t feel like doing any work because I really couldn’t see a reason for it. People on KeenSpot were making real money from their work, I was making practically nothing. And I felt locked into doing a comic that I had some success with but I was becoming uninspired with, and I was locked into a comic that I thought had to be my brand. If I didn’t do this comic I wouldn’t be successful, but the comic had diminishing returns.

And for some stupid reason, I kept going back to it, like it was the only thing I was supposed to draw. There were some other comics I drew, but they all sputtered and failed because I was supposed to draw that damn Sexy Losers, and if I couldn’t draw that I had no right to draw anything.

I went back to it the last time in 2011. I was going to make a Tumblr version, a stripped down analog only strip that was supposed to be like how I did comics way back. It wasn’t very good, and I got a lot of feedback saying that very thing. It was disheartening. It was depressing.

It was depressing enough I thought I’d make a joke comic about how depressing it was. I drew two comics about how I felt, and called them “depression comix” hoping that if people didn’t find them entertaining, they would at least find it ironic.

Surprisingly, they were more popular than my regular comic at the time. I drew a couple more, and sure enough, they got liked and reblogged too. Soon I was drawing ONLY depression comix, EVERY WEEK. Whereas my productivity before was spotty, depression comix made me have something to show every week.

Since December 2011, I have had an update of something every week. Last year I was getting tired of doing just depression comix, I wanted to do other comics as well. I was feeling inspired and needed to draw something else than random people feeling depressed. I wanted to draw stories, I wanted to make characters that people would love and hate. So last year, I decided to rotate my updates so that I could keep depression comix — my source of personal expression — and do the other comics I longed to do like A Strawberry Memory and HAttiE.

Now everything has changed. The reason I draw now is for fun. For the feeling of creating something. Watching characters that existed in my head — Wren, Raven, Robin, and now the characters of HAttiE — all come alive and have their stories become real. Although everything I draw is planned, I don’t write everything in stone and let the characters surprise me on the page. Sometimes they follow the roadmap I made and sometimes they don’t. But getting to the next page is what interests me the most. I don’t know what it looks like but I am incredibly curious to find out what it will look like.

The internet is filled with failed webcomics. Sometimes they fail because the creator doesn’t have time or lost interest. Some webcomics die because they were too ambitious for what the creator could handle. But I’m sure some webcomics fail because they didn’t meet the expectations for success that the creator had for it. Success for a webcomic is especially hard. There are already thousands of them competing for reader attention, and the most popular ones give a false image of the ease of success. It’s not that easy.

I really do think the secret of doing webcomics is simply for the love of doing it. I’m lucky to have found that love again. My webcomics may not be that great or launch me to the upper echelons of the webcomic world, but every page you see I have loved drawing it. That’s why I do it, and that is why I’m confident you’ll see me drawing comics for a long time.

In The Mirror

My mother’s favourite method of decorating the house was to cover it with mirrors. I asked her about it, she says it’s not due to any narcissism or desire to admire herself in every room in the house. She said it made the house look bigger. It did, actually. When the mirrors reflected on each other it made all the rooms seem like they stretched out to infinity. However, for me, it made the house creepier, like living in a house of mirrors.

When I was alone in the house, I did everything I could to avoid looking in the mirrors. I walked around with my eyes averted, daring not to look into those brass frames. It felt like I was looking into darker versions of my own world, and I had a fear of what I would see in there.

My imagination could run wild. Once I thought I saw something in one of the mirrors as I was walking across the landing. When I looked behind me, there was nothing there, and when I looked back into the mirror, it was gone. It filled me with such a dread that I started intentionally looking away from the mirrors.

However, there was one mirror I could not avoid: the bathroom mirror. The bathroom mirror filled the whole wall in front of the sink. By itself it wouldn’t be too bad but as I was facing the sink, the bathtub behind  also had a mirrored door. The two were aligned perfectly parallel, and so when you looked into one you could see multiple reflections. If you weren’t standing in the way to see it, I bet you could see hundreds of reflections, each reflection slightly darker than the one before. I always felt a sense of vertigo looking into it. Like I might fall into a deep and endless void.

But regardless, it was the bathroom mirror, and I had to stand in front of it to do my daily hygiene and fix my hair. I tried not to think of the artificial depth in front of me. I tried to concentrate on my own reflection and not try to look beyond it. I couldn’t help but see … it.

In one of the many reflections, I could see a dark smudge. It was about a dozen reflections in. I went to touch it to wipe it off, and it seemed to vanish before my finger got close enough. It was so vague I thought I must have imagined it. Unnerved, I quickly finished drying my hair and got out of the room.

I didn’t talk to anyone about it because I thought it sounded foolish. There’s something in the mirror. Something living about a dozen reflections in. And it sees me too. I did take extra care not to look into any of the house’s mirrors for a while. I blocked them out with my hand so I wouldn’t see what was inside. My own room was mirrorless and the only room I really felt safe. Once I made it there I knew I was okay so it became a daily mad dash from the door to my room.

I still needed to use that bathroom, though.  It was incredibly difficult to try not to look into the mirror at all. I was half filled with fear, but I also thought I was obviously just scaring myself with my overactive imagination. If I looked into the mirror, I would see that there’s nothing there and I could go on with my life so just take a quick look and –

The smudge was back. But it was bigger, and it seemed to be quivering like jelly. It seemed to be about a dozen reflections in.

Something told me to look into the mirror on the bath door. I turned around. The smudge was in that reflection too, but it seemed to be a reflection closer. This would make sense if the bathroom mirror was a reflection of that. But when I looked closer, the smudge was clearly not on the mirror but in the mirror.

I looked back at the bathroom mirror and I nearly screamed. The smudge was now a reflection closer still. I could make out a humanoid shape, but with a constantly pulsing outline that made it look like an amoeba trying to form a gingerbread man shape.

I didn’t want to, but some impulse made me turn around again into the mirror on the bath door. And yes, the smudge was one reflection closer again.

I screamed. I ran out of the room, terrified. I don’t know what I saw, but it seemed to be climbing through the reflections. There was something in that mirror.

That day I decided to never look into those mirrors again.


Two weeks passed by. Although I used the toilet, I never dared stop to look into the mirrors. I stopped taking showers, instead wiping myself clean with wet cloths. My hair started to smell so I started wearing hats. My own personal hygiene was starting to fail,  so my mom felt she had to talk to me.

I tried to tell her that the mirrors were scaring me. I tried to tell her about the feeling of falling through the mirror into infinity. I tried to tell her of the dread I felt thinking there was something living in the mirror. She merely looked at me and asked directly if I was taking drugs.

She took my hand and led me into the bathroom. Triumphant and somewhat patronizingly, she ordered me to come into the room and look at the reflection.

I winced. I didn’t want to look into the mirror. But since my mom was there, I was safe, wasn’t I?

I gradually opened my eyes. There was no smudge, no amoebic gingerbread man. Just a reflection of me and my mom, with a background of infinite mirror frames leading into darkness. The dread, however, remained.

Mom ordered me to take a shower. I did so reluctantly. As I was washing my hair for the first time in weeks, feeling its coarseness wash away, I felt trapped inside, knowing just outside were the two mirrors. But I would have to face it, I couldn’t get out of the shower and dry myself off without opening my eyes to see where I was.

When I finished my shower, I opened the door, quickly grabbed the towel, and closed the door again. I dried myself off the best I could inside the tub, but I knew I had to come out sooner or later.

I opened the door. I stepped out, taking utmost care not to look at the mirror. I squatted to get the hair dryer from below the sink. With the dryer in my hand I took a deep breath and stood back up, fearing whatever it was I’d see.

To my relief it was just my reflection looking back at me, with an empty series of reflections behind. I raised the dryer to blow my hair. That’s when I screamed.

The reflection didn’t move. It stood there, looking blankly at me.

I screamed and I screamed. I stepped back. Its eyes tracked me as I backed off, the only sign of movement. I couldn’t stop screaming.

Suddenly, my mom yelled from downstairs. “Are you coming down, honey?”

Before I could answer, the reflection’s lips moved. “I’m coming,” it said. It coldly turned towards the doorway and appeared to walk out of the bathroom.

I followed on my side of the glass. But outside the door was nothing, as the floor, the doorway all faded into darkness. Terror gripped me as I slowly began to understand the true horror of my situation, that I was now the reflection on the other side of the glass.

I frantically pounded on the glass. I screamed until my throat became raw. No one could hear me, no one could see me. I was trapped in the endless darkness in the glass.


Occasionally my reflection would come to the mirror. It would never acknowledge me or look in my direction. It would simply look coldly at itself while it performed its daily hygiene. Every time it comes, I find myself a little further away, one reflection back. As I look at myself, I am becoming darker and formless. I scream but the reflection doesn’t even flinch, it just turns and walks out of my view, living my life. I am just a smudge.

clay learns to draw

One of the most frustrating things that has dogged me throughout the years is my inability to draw. That’s probably a strange thing for someone who draws comics to say, but here we are. After drawing hundreds of comic strips , I will now honestly state that I do not know how to draw.

How I’ve gotten this far is simply by sheer luck. I had some talent when I was younger, I was the best “drawer” in my class, and I loved art class the most. But I only liked the things in art class I was good at. Give me a pencil and a paper, I would go to town on that baby. Give me anything else though, and I would just lose interest. A lot of high school art was doing anything BUT pencil and paper, so I quickly decided art wasn’t worth pursuing and focused on things I really loved doing like algebra and physics (sarcasm).

This didn’t mean I hated art, I loved making comics. But I hated having to do anything that wasn’t comics. Learning how to paint? Good God. Learning anatomy? Kill me now. So I settled in with a drawing ability that allowed me to do some comic strips but not much else. I learned enough Photoshop to colour the strips, but not enough to actually create from scratch within.

Although there were many things hampering me when I was trying to do a comic like Sexy Losers, one of the biggest ones was my lack of drawing skill. My characters were always stiff, perspective non-existent, and I often copy pasted out of sheer laziness. If there was a particular drawing problem which would need me to do something other than have the characters talk at each other, I would immediately hit a rut. A good example of this is the Shiunji thread, where I knew I had to draw dogs at some point, but I procrastinated the hell out of it, dragging the strip on forever. Because I couldn’t sit down and learn how to draw a dog. It doesn’t really come up as a problem in a comic like depression comix but it really is a comic about people doing nothing other than talking to each other. Artistically, depcom really isn’t that demanding.

This year, I have realized how much my own inability is holding me back, stopping me from making the comics I want to create. So far, I’ve coasted on luck and not skill and I’m finding it increasingly constraining. Up until now, I’ve been an adequate artist for the work I do, not a good artist. And it’s time I did something about it.

So what I’m going to do is teach myself through books, YouTube and practice. Although art school is going to be out of reach for me, and something I have always regretted not attending, I’m going to do this by myself but through the tutorials of people better than me.

I’ve identified areas in which I need immediate help:

  • anatomy
  • using PhotoShop as an illustration tool
  • properly using tools like pencils and inks

These are areas which I need help very soon:

  • perspective & backgrounds
  • colour and light
  • layout

There are more areas I need help in, but these I think are the essential ones I need to work on this year. If I don’t improve myself and become more than an adequate artist, I won’t be able to draw better and faster, and bring to life many of the ideas in my head that I don’t have the skill to transfer to paper just yet.

I’ll be updating this blog to talk about my progress. I hope that if you’re reading my work, it’ll become something more enjoyable and dynamic.

Good luck, me!

5 Abandoned Plotlines in Sexy Losers

Occasionally when I was doing Sexy Losers I would try to shake things up a bit, to try to create new situations for possible comedy. Not everything was successful, and occasionally I would begin something I would never finish (much like Sexy Losers itself). As drawing the strip became more difficult, I started to abandon more and more. Recently I was able to close a couple of abandoned plot lines like the Gender Incrmination thread and the Shiunji and the Suicide Girl, as well as begin a new thread featuring Mrs. Shibata and Kenta (3 strips finished, 4th one being pencilled now). However, here are five plot lines that got started and I just abandoned to the wind and probably leave that way.

5. Miho’s Shit-eating Family

I got as far as the first strip on this one. The idea was, Miho’s family were traditional coprophagists, and believed the daughter, Miho, should follow likewise in her dating preferences. Her new boyfriend was not into eating feces, but appears for dinner bringing a vintage bottle of human urine. From there, the strip would have become a satire of religious intolerance. I thought this would be pretty funny, but I lost the enthusiasm of getting there when the first strip received a (rightfully so) tepid response. It probably would have picked up steam at some point had it gone into the satire I wanted it to be, but I didn’t want to invest any more into the strip.

4. Mark Fails Becoming A Jerking Jedi

I had gotten a couple of strips into this thread, where Mark decides that he wants to sign up for his roommate’s wank classes so he can learn to jerk off. It was going to be a deep Empire Strikes Back parody as you can see from one of the strips where I nearly rip off the movie line for line. In the end, Mark fails every test, offends people, and loses his girlfriend in the process. There are several strips that were storyboarded and never got past that stage, but who knows, this thread may still have life in it yet. Mike stories tend to write themselves and this one was no different.

3. Mrs. Shibata Gets Arrested For Murder

In the Natsuki storyline, there was one strip where Mr. Shibata buys surveillance equipment so he can enjoy watching his wife and Natsuki get it on. There was an actual point to this strip and the existence of the recording equipment. Immediately following the death of Natsuki, the tapes were to be confiscated and used as evidence in court against Mrs. Shibata, who is charged with murder. Fortunately for Mrs. Shibata, the tapes are so incredibly sexy the jurors let her go hoping for a sequel. This one didn’t continue because after Natsuki died, I was kind of sick of the series and didn’t want it to continue.

2. Sex In the Industry

At some point in the series, Sexy Losers was to have been bought out and reformatted to get rid of the grosser strips and focus more on the sexy. The new owners would reassemble the cast and create a roommates kind of strip called Sex In the Industry with Madame X (the sex artist), Chie Sakamachi (the sex actress), and Dr. Lovetalk (the sex therapist) living together with hijinks. It was supposed to be a parody of character reboots. I ended up abandoning it because it was a little too ambitious for me at the time, but Chie and Madame X ended up living with each other anyways.

1. A Hentai Made of Glass

This one was actually abandoned two strips away from the eventual punchline. It left off as Cheryl and Jon were getting back together and coming to grips with Cheryl’s orgy porn star past. Jon’s friend Al was to tell him about the incredible sex he was going to get and he should stop complaining, because all he ever did when Jon and Cheryl were together was complain about NOT getting sex. Now he’ll have what he wanted — the beautiful sexy woman and the incredible sex. Finally, when they officially get together over dinner, Cheryl announces that she’s a born again virgin.

What I liked about this series was to show how stupid expectations are in a relationship — if you can’t accept the person for who they are the relationship is screwed. Jon’s inability to accept the person is what makes the relationship fall apart. And his acceptance of her past feels like a painful concession to him instead of a non sequitur as it should have been. If I had more time with the characters and could show it from Cheryl’s side, I would have focused more on how good a person she is, and why accepting an asshole who had dumped her over a stupid rumour makes her the one who is really making a painful concession.

 

The Fap Is Back

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted here. I’ve been so focused on depcom, that I forgot this was here. The last post on this blog is a post dedicated to blasting the Star Wars franchise, a blog post that actually got me an interview on the BBC. Unfortunately, the post was old and I didn’t really feel like that anymore (not that I like the franchise any more, I care less). But anyways, after two years, it’s definitely time for an update.

There will be more Sexy Losers strips starting in September. I don’t know why, motivation is kicking in or something, but there will be a 15 strip run of comics in the next little while. What will you expect? More of the same. Why do anything new or different.

All of the strips in the next little while have already been written and sketched out. All of the strips are new ones that didn’t appear in the brief Tumblr Thin H Line run except for the conclusion of the Shiunji thread, which I just gotta do at some point.

What to expect:

  • NINE of the strips will be a running thread of the Shibata family. Here’s a preview of a strip currently in production:
    slte
    I know, I know, not amazingly funny yet, but that’s as far as I can go for this SFW blog post.
  • Another Clueless Cuckold strip.
  • Gender-reversed Swearing friend from #275 becomes a thing.
  • The Incredibly fertile woman has some children, as usual
  • A Harry Potter fan fiction!
  • Dutch Wife Fairy
  • Mike slappin’ his stick once again
  • The aforementioned Shiunji/Suicide Girl conclusion. I’m redrawing it and putting it in color.

There will probably be more but these are the ones I’m committed to doing. There is a subscribers list on the Sexy Losers site, you can sign up there if you would like the strips sent to your mailbox.

Why the updates? 2016 has been pretty grim. Maybe I can generate a couple laughs and make things a little less serious for people for a few minutes. I think we all need it.

Why I Hate Star Wars

From the title, you might be thinking that this is a post from someone who has never liked Star Wars, and is just looking to grumble about something. But no, as a child who grew up with Star Wars as a major interest in his life, I can tell you that I’m writing this with a grand sense of disappointment and recently came to understand why this is so.

To understand this, I had to go back to 1977, when I was first exposed to it. My older brother took me to a store that sold comics and showed me the Giant-Size Star Wars comic book adaptation by Marvel. He said to me, “We are going to see this film” and he bought the book to read it to me. Unfortunately it was only the first half of the adaptation, and I would have to wait until I walked into the movie itself to find out how Luke, Leia, and Han got out of the Death Star.

I walked out of that theatre a fan. I had never seen anything like it. New worlds, new life forms, spaceships and an environment that looked real, and regardless of how fantastic everything was, it felt like something that could exist. The fire of my imagination was ignited and I could never be the same anymore. My life was now Star Wars.

I had to have everything Star Wars. My first toy was a Kenner R2D2. Soon I had toys, coloring books, the novelization, the board game, a set of blankets and sheets for my bed. My Christmas wish list was all Star Wars. There was simply nothing else that quite captured my interest like that.

I couldn’t wait for The Empire Strikes Back to come out. When I heard it was going to be Chapter V of a larger series, I nearly wet my pants. I found the novel adaptation and read it in a night. I was ready.

The Empire did not disappoint. It was full of images of fantastic things I had not seen before: four legged ATAT walkers advancing like the mechancial animals they were, a violent whirlwind of rock that was the asteroid belt, home of huge worm-like creatures, and a floating city in the sky. Then there was the Force, which did amazing things if one just believed. It was all too much and the imagination was fired up again.

The Star Wars series, although it was a simple story at its base about a boy who saves a princess from evil, used that plotline to advance us from one incredible situation to the next, to blow our minds away with the previously unseen spectacle before us. It was not just a movie, it was an Experience.

Six years later from that fateful day I entered the movie theatre in 1977, Return of the Jedi came. I eagerly sought out the novelization, read it in a night, and then a couple of days later waited in line to see the movie just as it came out. The anticipation was intense.

Return was good. But there was something different about this one. It just seemed to lack something essential, something that brought me into the series and made me a fan in the first place. My imagination wasn’t fired, it was more like closure. Star Wars was over, and it was time to move on.

What happened? The first episode had closure, but it inspired me. Return didn’t. It just made me want to move on.

Now that I look back, I can see why that was. Return was already old when it came out. There wasn’t anything terribly new or imaginative in it. For the first part, they went to Tatooine, the desert planet in the first Star Wars. It was based in Jabba’s palace, which was a more expenisve version of Mos Eisley. From there, Dagobah, where we had been in Empire. Then, another Death Star, in orbit around a moon that was just a big forest populated by real-looking teddy bears. The only really novel thing was the speeder-bike chase, which was in the middle of the movie. The Death Star was destroyed in a way that was pretty similar to the old one, except in a hole rather than a trench. It was simply a retread of old ideas. The imagination was gone.

When the prequels were announced, I wasn’t really that excited. Back to Tatooine, a planet that was initially described as a place farthest from anything that happens. More fighting in spaceships. More lightsabre duels, except they are getting longer and more aerobatic. Simply more of the same, without the imagination for the fantastic that made the series come alive in the first place.

The original movie told us we were going to a galaxy far far away, but now we were in a place we knew too well. Without the amazing backdrop and the jaw-dropping visuals we were left with the plot, which was always a little lackluster. THe universe of Star Wars was no longer something to be discovered, but well-worn territory.

And as Star Wars becomes more and more commercialized, the more familiar it’s become. And the awe that I felt as a little boy disappears with it.

I think that’s why I can say I dislike Star Wars now. But even though the imagination has died in it, TV and movies that inspire are still being made, like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and more. We still get to see strange new things and visit places that are unlike our own. I hope in the new series planned for Star Wars it remembers the promise of a galaxy far, far, away held, and bring us to someplace that makes us believe in the unbelievable.

EDIT: this post was made a year ago, before there was a director announced and definitely before we got to see some trailers.  Free from Lucas’s control the franchise may breathe. But I don’t believe it will have the impact that the original did. There is a lot of amazing entertainment nowadays, and the bar is far higher than it was in 1977. But it’s possible that it will get the bad aftertaste of the prequel series out of our mouths that has lingered so long.  But what made star wars so great was at the time there was nothing like it. Now it’s very familiar territory. And I have the feeling that people are looking forward to the movie not exactly to see something new, but to relive an old experience.

Sorry to keep you waiting …

It’s been a while since I posted and I apologize. I’m a terrible blogger because I always think twice about what I say, and hence, usually delete what I write.

Some good news though.  The income from the site now pays for itself so it’s no longer something that costs me money to maintain. However, I have to admit that this is temporary because as the site attracts new readers, costs will go up accordingly. I’ve had to upgrade the hosting plan in January, and now in February it looks like soon I will have to upgrade once again. But this is manageable, and it looks like with Google AdSense and people’s generous donations, keeping the site alive will no longer be out of pocket.

Now the bad news: the display on my laptop died. I can get it to work by plugging in an HDMI cable to the TV, but this is really annoying. I will have to buy a new computer soon, hopefully by March 31. Japanese sales tax goes up 3% in April, so I will have to consider what kind of computer I need soon.

Other things I have to think about is a redesign of the depression comix site.  There aren’t a lot of good designs for a vertical comic and WordPress isn’t exactly suited for this kind of thing. Which is too bad, I think WordPress is awesome and has a lot of potential but as I said, it’s still not great for comics. There are a couple of comic themes and plug ins but they aren’t that great; there’s a tendency to make comics as custom posts when I think it’s better to have comics as regular posts with additional functionality through custom taxonomies and custom fields. Currently, if you look at the sidebar with the character listings, that’s all done with custom taxonomies tacked on to regular posts.

Another thing I have to think about is what I’m going to do with the claycomix.com site. At first I thought it would be a blog thing where I post everything I do but all I do is related to depcom anyways so lately it’s just been a verbose mirror of that site. I’m thinking of making it just a portfolio site with links to SL and depression comix and get rid of the blog functionality.

Anyways, I’m still alive. I’ve also been blogging at the depression comix blog at http://www.depressioncomix.com/blog/ , and that’s a strictly depcom blog with no mention of anything else I do artistically (ie Sexy Losers).

Recent developments

Well, some bad news happened to me, the company is restructuring and I am being pushed to a new department, one that has terrible hours and coinides with my part-time job, which I will have to quit.

What this means is that financially I take a bit of a blow. There’s also talk of reducing salaries so that’s something else to consider.

Although I am not happy about this in the least, there might be a silver lining in this in that it may be what I need to push me to make online comicking my part time job, and I would enjoy that more than my part time job. The question is, is it possible? Can I replace my part time job by doing depression comix and related work?

That’s a good question, and maybe now is the opportunity to find out. Unfortunately, with the traffic I have now, it’s not steady enough to be a reliable source of income. When Iwas linked by i09 I received over $50 that week in Google Adsense, but the following week it died down so now my average is about $0,50/day.

To add to all the problems, the display on my laptop is dead, I can only get it to work by conecting a HDMI cable to it from my TV, which is not an optimal solution. I will have to buy a new computer very soon.

These problems will have to be solved. The last thing I want to do is give up comicking now that I’m slowly making a comeback. I will have to find ways to make this work.

Why the focus is so business oriented lately

Way back in the day when I was focused on Sexy Losers, the site bounced around from server to server because it always seemed to require more bandwidth than the provider wanted to give. After one bill of over $250US I decided that the only way for me to have Sexy Losers online somewhere is if someone would host it for me. At first, it was the Stile Project, who put the most vile adult ads possible on it. As more and more ads were being placed on the site without my input I decided to move to KeenSpace, another free hoster with ads but the ads were much more managable and less offensive (although the argument is that Sexy Losers was itself pretty offensive, it didn’t take itself seriously but those ads were serious and thus creepier). During this time, I should note that I never made a penny from any of these ads, and at the time I was more focused on avoiding another $250 bandwidth bill than anything.

I ended up leaving Keenspace because even though Sexy Losers was the most popular comic on it at the time, Keen would never promote it or share in the advertising money, despite it saying that it was possible. After a few Keen honchos said some disparaging words about the comic, it was time to leave, and a reader who had a server said I could host SL there if I ran some ads, and that’s where it is today.

I had the opportunity to meet this person last year, and one of the things he had said stuck in my head. He said that the ads on the site helped pay for his college tuition. In my recollection, the ads never made any money, and I received very little ad money myself, although he did renew my domain a couple of times.

Hence the story of Sexy Losers was how I was making money for other people but very little of it for myself. That bandwidth bill scared me so much I let other people host the site and pocket the ad money, while all the time I was working for them for free. Pretty stupid, huh?

I guess the lesson I’ve learned from all this is that if you’re doing work on a free site that collects ad money, you’re basically working for someone else. All your hard work is profitting other people. And you think they’re doing you the favor by letting you host your work there.

After that meeting I knew I had to get depression comix off Tumblr/Wordpress.com and onto a site that if it had to have ads, the money would not go to someone else. Even if the money was a pittance, I would at least know how much money is being made off of my work and would get my share of that pittance.

At some point I’m going to move Sexy Losers to a place I can control. It makes no sense to continue having it online not doing anything for me. I won’t be able to put ads on it probably, but I will be able to link it to a shop that would sell merchandise or something that would have the possibility for some kind of revenue.

The lesson here is that my work should have been more important to me, and I let other people profit by it because I did not believe that it was good enough to make my own money from and that I was just very lucky to have someone host it for me. No, the important thing is to control your own work, and if other people are making money and you’re not there is something very wrong.