It’s important to get things done. That’s my lesson for today. It was really emphasized to me this week when I caught a cold (or maybe a sinus infection) because for a week I got nothing done. It’s much easier to power through a 9 to 5 job when I’m sick. Other people around the office can pick up the slack. But getting any of my own stuff done is nearly impossible. It’s not easy being self motivated on a normal day but on a sick day it’s tough as nails. Those comic strips I had to finish could wait. I wanted to sit and rest.

After getting nothing done for a week I was feeling better and was ready to get something done. It was just in time too because I had posted my last “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip of 2019 and I had none ready for 2020. But I did have the raw materials ready for about twenty new strips from work I did on my commute into NYC.

From September to December I was commuting into the city two days a week. It’s a long commute that takes two hours from door to door and it’s made even longer by the train schedule not matching up with my work schedule. As a result I’ve learned to work on stuff while waiting for the train.

For my “Drifting and Dreaming” strip I need to make three of my art cards. I make two cartoon art cards and one regular art card. The cartoon art cards are the ones where I draw a face and have that character saying something in a word balloon above his or her head. That means I have to write them and draw them. Usually I draw them first and then write them but I changed the order around this time because of my commute.

I had to catch a 10:50 AM train into the city from a station that was a 20 minute drive away. I don’t want to be late so I always left at 10:20 AM. That gave me ten minutes at the train station so I’d bring my cards and spend that ten minutes writing things for my characters to say. After catching the train I’d spend as long as it took to write the remaining cards so by the time I got to Secaucus Junction to catch my connecting train into Penn Station I was ready to draw.

I could have caught a train into NYC right away but that meant I would be into work early. Rather than do that I chose to sit in Secaucus and draw for half an hour. It’s a pretty nice station. It’s bright and airy. I’d grab a bench and pull out my cartoon art cards. I could pencil ten heads in that half an hour but it took some doing. I had to concentrate and work fast. It was no picnic but I got it done.

The next day when I was back home I would take the cards written and drawn in pencil and ink in the lettering and ink the pencils. After that I would take my markers out and color them and then scan them in. After four weeks of that I had forty cards done. It was a lot of work but it was important to get it done. No one else would do it for me.

That’s not the end of making these comic strips. At that point they’re just cards and have to be made into strips. That’s done on the computer. I have to write the “Middle Story” for each of the strips which is the short two sentence story that runs underneath the cards. It’s not the longest story in the world but it doesn’t write itself. I have a master document with ten blank strips in it. One morning I took it upon myself to get it done and so I wrote ten “Middle Stories” and was ready to go. I copied pasted the now digital art cards into the strip template. Two cartoon art cards and one visual art card. Then I save it as a finished strip.

As I was finishing those strips I was also getting something else done. I was scanning in the negatives of old family photos taken by my mother. I’d put two 120 negatives in to the holder, put the holder into the scanner, and then use the scanning software to scan them it. It takes about ten minutes per scan so in that time I when I’d work on the comic strips.

Scanning isn’t hard at all but it’s tedious. It’s the same movements over and over again. First off I have the handle the negatives with gloves on. So I’d slip on a cotton glove, pull a negative from a sleeve, look at it to see which way was up, down, back, and front, put the first negative in the holder, do it again for the second negative, take the gloves off, put the holder into the scanner, call up the scanner software, preview the negatives, hit a couple of settings, start the scan. Then I’d go back to working on “Drifting and Dreaming.”

I finished ten of the comics over the course of the morning so in the afternoon I switched to scanning and making my altered art Magic the Gathering cards. For those I had to use frisket to mask out the card borders and expose on the art I was going to replace, use acetone (nail polish remover) to strip the ink from the art area of the card, prepare the ground with varnish, medium, and inkjet medium, print a new image on the card, put spray varnish over the new art, remove the frisket, scan the card in to post on eBay. I’ve got lots of multi-step process going on.

I kept this up for two days. I got twenty comic strips finished, made twelve altered art Magic the Gathering cards, and scanned in about sixty medium format negatives. That’s not too bad. I got stuff done. But it was equally important that I got a lot of stuff done before hand so that I could get this stuff done. That ain’t easy.