Archive for ‘Blog’


Update on the laptop situation..

Long story short, it’s broken.

The display is toast, and the hard disk is having serious issues… so I’ve moved back to my Mac mini.  This of course means that I have been separated from my precious GIMP 2.6 (my editor of choice).

GIMP works on Mac OS X, as long as you’ve got X11… therein lies the problem.  Tablet functionality is severely hampered by X11.. no pressure sensitivity whatsoever.

The result? I’ve been sampling a variety of free-to-try products and have settled on Seashore.  Some might ask: why Seashore?  Wouldn’t Photoshop Elements, or Painter Essentials be so much better?  Well.. they are!  The thing is, my computer’s a bit on the weak side, as I’ve mentioned before.

Seashore is going to result in a LOT of compromises in style, as it does not deal with paths, nor does it save selections.  THANKFULLY it does support layers, and it DOES make full use of the tablet’s capabilities.

Photoshop Elements really would have worked for me, if only it didn’t crash so often.  I could increase my saving to once every brushstroke, but that’s hardly conducive to my work.  Also, GIMP did this thing, where I would hold on the centre mouse button (or its grip-pen equivalent), and my entire workspace would move.  This enabled me to position the page in a location where drawing was easier.. namely the right half of the tablet’s screen.

Painter Essentials lacked some pretty key features that were found in Photoshop Elements, namely the ability to save selections and the ability to draw borders around the selections.  In its defence, it had some pretty kickass drawing features that would have proven quite effective for my developing style.  Also, I just.. JUST NOW discovered that it can do the click-and-move-workspace-dealie.  Hmmm… I might just have to give it another shot.  It glitches every now and again, but it doesn’t crash.. could be worth further investigation.

I also tried Pixelmator (amazing interface, but really just a glorified and expensive-to-buy GIMP), and Pixen (seems like a fantastic tool for pixel artists, good/simplified system).  I sampled Pencil (neat for drawing, but not-so-great for comic-making), Acorn (a small step up from Seashore.. or was it small a step down?), and ArtRage (looks promising, though the trial version was – obviously – limited).

In conclusion.. Photoshop Elements is the closest thing to what I had before, Painter Essentials holds the most potential, and Seashore just works.  Hopefully I can make up my mind before too long, as I’d like to have an update up some time soon!

MJ


Vacation time…

Just a heads up that this site won’t see another update until sometime next week.. Wednesday at the earliest.  I’ll be visiting family.

MJ


Back..

Well, I’ve been back in town for a while now.. really should have had something up this past week.. instead of doodling aimlessly.  Hopefully a new page will be up on Monday.. ?  Sorry for the lack of motivation.

MJ


Dragging my feet..

As far as “The City” storyline.. thing.. goes, there’s still one more page I’d like to do about the 20th century.. a quick homage to medical, legal, and educational advances, and how they helped shape the skyline.  Unfortunately, I’m thinking ahead too far (I’m extremely anxious to get going on the 19th and 18th centuries… as in, they’re the reasons I decided to start this project in the first place).

There are also a few ideas that Tertius and I have had over the past few years that I’m keen on putting into comic form, but a lot of them are going to require both of us to capture the humour.  So.. there are lots of things that I want very much to do, but just haven’t been able to get started on.

Also, I’m back to my horrendous “go to bed at 1PM” schedule, so judging “work” time against “sleep” time is pretty difficult.  I guess I should get used to working whenever my energy is good, no matter what time it is… either that, or force sleepytime.

Finally, I do believe I’ve fallen in love.. with stop-motion animation!  I’ve always liked The Nightmare Before Christmas, but just last week (or two weeks ago.. can’t remember) I saw Coraline for the first time.  Then I remembered the existence of Corpse Bride, and promptly rented it.

Stop-motion animation has always sort of baffled me.  Why would anyone put so much time and effort into a 70-minute feature that could easily have been done digitally, or even conventionally?  But there IS a distinctive look that brings a wonderful life to such films.  As an adult who loves cartoons, watching something that I KNOW took an extraordinary amount of effort to construct also adds a level of enjoyment.  Finally, as someone who can pour hours into a simple comic strip that will take most people between 10-30 seconds to read.. well.. let’s just say that I empathize with the creators of aforementioned movies.

For me, stop-motion is a redeeming feature in animated films.  Nightmare’s music was fun, I guess (though the lyrics were sometimes painful to listen to – an awful dependance on near-rhymes) but the story was a little weak (though extremely imaginative).  Corpse Bride was fantastic.. but it did feel a little to contained.. closed-systemish (it didn’t create a world.. just a diorama).  Coraline.. I never read.  My only exposure was the film.  I didn’t even see it in full 3D.  I loved it, though (but I honestly feel it would have been a bit boring, run-of-the-mill if it were done in any other way).

Each film needed to be done through this medium.  Whether it was the world they created, the characters they contained, or the story they told.. the uniqueness that stop-motion animation provided for them was paramount to their standing out.  Maybe it’s something about discovering a new world (Christmas Land, Land of the Dead, The Other Apartment) that makes the medium suitable to this kind of story, I don’t know.

But enough of me rambling about things I know very little about.. new comic will be up soon, though I can’t vouch for its quality.

MJ


About Handyside’s work…

Shawn Handyside, author of Staccato and the creator of Halolz recently came up with THIS shirt idea.  If you don’t get the joke, just drop it and move on to better things… but if you DO get the joke, and see the cleverness of the idea, then you’ll understand that this design is a veritable gold mine for the guy, and that he deserves internets.  Many of them.

Now, I thoroughly enjoyed Staccato, repeatedly enjoy Halolz, and support Shawn’s work in general.  This shirt idea is currently sitting at somewhere over the 2300-digg mark.  It has come to my attention that some people out there are doubting Mr. Handyside’s ability to come up with such a clever and popular idea.  I am appalled!

So I figured, being at the forefront of webcomic society as I am, that I’d use my considerable influence to persuade all those doubters out there that YES, Shawn Handyside IS the creator of awesomeness!  YOU OWE HIM YOUR ALLEGIANCE!!

All delusions of grandeur aside… he’s a funny and creative guy, I just thought I’d use this opportunity to direct a few of you his way.  His deviantART page can be found HERE.

MJ


The New China Doll

There is a Chinese restaurant nearby, where I occasionally go to eat.  It is a simple enough place; family operated, a little run down, and decorated to fit the seemingly-universal design patterns of such places in North America.

Being there brings on a certain sense of comfort, and – dare I say – conservatism.  Whenever I have sat down for a meal at The New China Doll, I have been greeted by the matron of the family, and seated near some middle-, retirement-, and senior-aged members of the Kingston community.

I do not dine there for the quality of the food, nor do I lap up the decor with appreciative delight.  The true reason is not so obvious.

There is a feeling that confronts me while I am at The New China Doll, one that seems to suggest the failing of illusion.  There was a time when the decor, family-run nature, and food provided an authentic cultural experience for hungry visitors;  I can still remember the look on the face of my grandmother whenever we dined at one of the ethnic restaurants in my hometown.

The system is now showing its age; it is rare indeed that one can enter a restaurant of this type and be bought by its image.

These restaurants play by the old rules; they are outdated, obsolete, and archaic.  At the same time, however, there is a tremendous sense of pride, effort, and honesty exuded by them.  Their glory-days are now gone, and the families who ran the businesses at that time are growing old.

There is a melancholy peace found while dining, as fellow patrons are either looking for a bargain meal, or grasping at a now-distant memory.

The restaurants have not changed.  They serve the same dishes, prepare them in more-or-less the same way, and manage business with the same frugality.  They defiantly stand their ground as the world goes on around them.

When I paid for my meal, I reached out for the familiar debit control pad, only to have my server take it from me and replace it with a new machine.  Pin and chip technology, it seems, had forced a little bit of adaptation onto the restaurant.

MJ


New comic on the way…

Hopefully there will be something new up before I go to bed tonight.  Lots of material to work with now that school has started.

MJ

edit:  I don’t know when the new page’ll be up.  Apparently I can’t draw anymore.  Also, my tablet is far superior as a monitor than my newish LCD screen, which has resulted in looking back through my archives and realizing that colour selections that seemed to make so much sense with tablet-as-display are actually hideous beyond comprehension on a regular LCD.  Finally, I just realized today that some of my classes are going to completely ravage my happiness this year. Yay.


It may be a while…

There’s no way around it.. I’ve been neglecting this site.  I get my comics planned, set up, sketched… but they never get very polished, and so they never really see the light of day.

I’m going to start playing around with a new style that might make the updates flow a little easier, but I’m not really sure when I’m going to get around to it.

Its interesting working on two comics at once.  Spartachick takes up all of my drawing-time on the weekends, as it’s really the focus of my efforts, and therefore benefits from hours of fine-tuning.

Felix Marcus is supposed to be simple and fun, but I get so damned embarrassed when I post sub-par work that it’s really anything but.  It forces me to do simple, really well… by which I mean it demands that I do simple, really well, and I seem to fail at this task repeatedly.

Anyway, we’ll see how the next few days go.. there should be an update this week!

MJ


More whining…

It’s midterm/essay time.  Sorry.

Also, I’m sick of Painter.  I want GIMP back!

Oh, and I just had an Oblivion relapse.  It’s passing though; I’ve already gone through the Dark Brotherhood, Arena, and Main storylines… the only one left that I really care about is the Mages’ Guild (and, to be honest, I’m kind of sick of it/it doesn’t fit my character).

I swear, I’ve got a backlog of about 10 decent strips ready to go.. they’re written, sorta sketched, kinda laid-out… All I need to do is put the time into finishing them.

This happens every year.  When I have time to spare, I waste it on video games or depressed wall-staring.  When I have no time, all I can think about is comic-drawing, photography, music, sports… all the things that I really do love and enjoy.  I mean, it’s not that I don’t recognize that time’s a wastin’… it’s just that I never feel like doing anything when I’ve got time enough to do everything.  It all becomes incredibly dull.

Of course, now that I’m busy and want to do all of the fun things that are currently blocked off, I feel extremely guilty about not taking the opportunity when it was presented.  This drains all interest out of school, and leads to complete apathy in class.  Seriously, I could care less about Greek and Latin right now.

I know that the languages are important for my degree, and that failing things is never ideal… but I sit in class wishing I had my tablet in front of me; I walk home and hate myself for not having my camera, for not capturing the autumn colours, or the fallen leaves on which perfectly formed water droplets can be seen.

I crave the freedom to do the things I love, but I know that – given that freedom – I’d sit around and do nothing.  I need work to define my free time, I guess.. it’s just unfortunate that things go from dead to blitzkrieg in a matter of minutes.  I suppose that’s only due to a lack of planning and discipline… but it’s just not in my nature to plan every second of my life.  I hate schedules.. I just recognize them as a necessary evil.

Maybe the problem is that I’m just not into my interests as much as I like to think.  Y’know, good enough for an amateur.. leagues away from pro.  If I found something that I truly loved, would there even be “free time?”  Or would it just be [insert activity here]-time 24/7?

I guess it doesn’t help that I’m consistently unhappy with my work in all areas.  I mean, it’s not as if I don’t take pride in the things that I do… it’s just that I always see room for improvement, or areas of personal weakness.  I get frustrated when some invisible wall places itself between me and progress, when – no matter how hard I try – I can’t fix “that one little problem!”

The point of all this is, that I really, really, reallly want to post an update.. I’m just having difficulty right now.  I’ll get it all sorted soon enough.  Anyway, that’s enough whining for the time being.

Later,

MJ


Maybe tonight..

I think I’ll post an update tonight. Done.