I just finished drawing a lot of cartoon art cards. Those are the cards that make up my “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip that I run here on Sundays. A cartoon art card consists of a drawing of a weird character with a word ballon above the character’s head saying something amusing. I then take two of those and add a third regular art card between them plus write a little “Middle Story” that goes along with the cards.

Since I run them every Sunday, 52 a year, I need a hundred and four cartoon art cards plus another fifty two regular art cards. That’s a lot of cards to draw. In the past I have spent all year making them but in the last few years I’ve gotten them done in the first half of the year. That is I got all of 2024’s “Drifting and Dreaming” strips done in the first half of 2023. That means this year I’m working on 2025’s strips.

I use to do them individually whenever the mood struck me but then I shifted to doing them in ten card blocks. I’d get ten cards written and drawn before moving on to the next ten. That worked well for me but it often took a lot of the day to get ten cards done and I had to do that ten times.

Last year I think I got about 30 cards done before the end of 2022. I was in pretty good shape with that as it only gave me 74 cards to do before June 2023. I even got everything done before that date. At least I think I did. I remember finishing all the cartoon art cards but then it took me a while to write all the “Middle Stories” and get the final strips put together. It was a case of, “I got 85% of the work done so the other 15% can wait” and then the waiting got longer and longer. I eventually got it done though. After all there is one up every Sunday.

This past December (2023) I didn’t get any cartoon art cards finished. Not one. That meant that I had to get all one hundred and four of them done this year before my casual June deadline. I call it a casual deadline because it doesn’t matter. I could get them done in July, August, or never and it wouldn’t make much of a difference in my life. I do all my comic strips just for myself because they get me no money or acclaim.

For some odd reason getting no cartoon art cards done in December motivated me to want to get them done right away in January. All of a sudden I was all “It’s now or never.” I don’t know what made me feel that but I knew I had to shake things up and not make them as I had over the past decade. I decided to take advantage of the time between semesters and get them going.

Instead of doing them ten at a time I decided to do them fifty at a time. So on January 6th 2024 I wrote and lettered thirty of them, on the 7th I wrote and lettered twenty more, on the 9th I pencilled all fifty, inked all 50 on the 10th, marker colored the backgrounds on the 11th, and finished the marker coloring on all fifty cards on the 12th. I also scanned them in that day. That was a lot of art card work in a short period of time.

I thought I’d give myself a break after that and not do any for a few weeks. But then I wanted to get more of them done. So on January 13th I wrote thirty art cards, on the 14th I wrote twenty more and lettered them all, on the 16th I pencilled fifty of them, on the 19th I inked all fifty, on the 20th I colored all fifty, and finally I scanned them all in on the 21st. I also got the final four cards done on the 21st.

It always takes more work to scan in the cards than I think. That’s because I have to scan them in and set them up. Each card gets its own raw scan and then I put the cards into a template. There are ten cards per template. I actually have an Photoshop Action to help me put them in the template. I open the card and the template, select the area of the card, press the Action play button, and then the Action pastes the card into the template in the right place. That helps cut down the time it takes.

Another thing that takes some paying attention to is numbering the cards. With so many of them they each need a number so that I can keep track of them. I don’t number them as I finish them because I find it easier to number them after I scan them. The scanner automatically numbers them and it’s easier to write that number down on the back of the card than to try to scan them in order if I put a number on first. I check the number on the file and then write that number on the back of the card. It takes paying attention but less time and attention than the other way around.

The next thing I have to do is move the cards from the cartoon art card template to the “Drifting and Dreaming” template. I usually do that after I have all the “Middle Stories” written and then I’d add all three cards and finish the strip. This time I might move all the cartoon art cards first and then write. I like to mix things up.

I also have to make fifty two regular art cards. I did make some of those last year so it’s probably not the whole fifty two but I’m not really sure. I haven’t looked at how many I have. Or even if I have any. The regular art cards I make all year so I don’t pay attention to them. I could have made forty of them or I could have made five. I have to give them a look. Then maybe I can finish things. We’ll see.