“Drifting and Dreaming” is the comic strip that I run every Sunday on this site. It’s not your everyday comic. None of my comics are particularly traditional but “Drifting and Dreaming” is the one of the three I run here that is the most far out. It’s also made in its own peculiar way.

When it come to making comics I’ve become a big believer in getting done whatever I can get done. By that I mean if I can’t get things done in a traditional or ideal manner then go nontraditional and make the less than ideal work. Between the choice of doing something and doing nothing I’ll take doing something. If I had my druthers I’d like to be one of those comic strip cartoonists from the 1930s to about the 1950s who got paid a ton of money, had giant studios, drew lush adventure strips, and got invited to all the swanky parties. It looks like that’s not going to happen.

To draw a comic like those old time ones took all day. It was a full time job. It’s not my full time job so there is no way I could ever make one as they did in those days. I had to figure out how to get something done that I could handle and be happy with. That is not an easy thing to figure out. It took a lot of false starts because inevitably things take a lot longer than I think they will. That’s pretty universal. Being unhappy with the results of something that has too little time spent on it is pretty universal too. Finding the balance of time and results sure is tricky.

“Drifting and Dreaming” started with “Art Cards”. Those are baseball card sized pieces of art. Drawings and paintings that you can hold in your hand. I heard about them years ago and since I have always been a fan of trading cards in general I started making some of my own. I had been making them for a while when I came up with the idea for a subset of art cards that I call “Cartoon Art Cards”. I start out by drawing borders and a word balloon on a 2.5×3.5 inch piece of paper and then I make a spontaneous ink drawing of a character underneath the word balloon. No pencil underdrawing is used because I want the drawings to be fast and weird. I want faces I wouldn’t otherwise draw when I’m meticulously thinking about it. The black line drawing of the faces is the fastest part of the process because I’m just going.

I usually do ten of these cartoon art cards at once. After the faces are drawn I lay them all down and figure out what they are going to say. All the cards are made up of a single character talking directly to the reader. I try to make them say odd, funny, or interesting things. I hand letter the cards. That makes these cartoon Art Cards the only time I hand letter any of my comics these days. I do my lettering on the computer now but for these I wanted the words to be on the original. I pencil out the lettering as I write the cards and then go over them with ink. I’m not very fond of doing hand lettering and it took me a long while to get comfortable doing it again. I must have gone through at least a half dozen pens and a hundred cartoon art cards before I settled on a pen that I liked for the job. I don’t know why it took me so long but it did.

After the cards are all written and lettered I break out my markers and color them. The first couple of hundred cards were all done with Sharpies and Bic Mark-It markers. I was going for a raw, low tech kind of look. Since then I’ve switched over to my Shin Han and Prisma Color markers but still don’t use my favorite brand, Copic, markers on them. I save the Copics for more sophisticated color drawings. That and I have all those other markers so I may as well use them. I draw all the backgrounds in color on all ten cartoon art cards first. Only after the backgrounds are colored do I start on the figures. The only reason I do this is because I like to get the most boring stuff out of the way first. It’s just my habit. Other artists do the opposite but I can’t work that way.

I had done a bunch of cartoon art cards before I got the idea for “Drifting and Dreaming”. I stumbled on it. I took two cartoon art cards and digitally sandwiched an art card with no words on it in between them. Then I decided the center art card needed a voice too so I came up with the Middle Story. That’s the small, three lined story that comes at the bottom of every “Drifting and Dreaming”strip. It doesn’t have a literal link with the center image but binds it all together. Two cartoon art cards talking to you, a middle card to look at, and a little story to read. It’s all about searching for some thread that binds the world together into something coherent as time slides by.

This time I’m making a whole batch of “Drifting and Dreaming” strips. I drew sixty cartoon art cards over the last week. That’s a lot. I don’t think I’ve done that many in so short a time before but I couldn’t stop. I just kept going. After being sick with a cold/flu for a week and then not being able to get anything done for half a week after that I was enjoying the sense of accomplishment that came with getting all those cartoon art cards done. Now I have to turn them into thirty “Drifting and Dreaming”strips. I already have plenty of art cards to choose from for the center panel but I am going to have to write thirty new middle stories. But I can get it done. If I couldn’t get it done then I wouldn’t be doing it.