This week, besides the usual plethora of stuff I’ve had to do, I’ve been working on coming up with another comic strip. I’m not even sure why I’m doing it because I certainly don’t have time to make another full blown comic strip but here I am. Most of my time spent on an endeavor such as this is spent coming up with characters for the strip. Though I spend a lot of time making drawings of strange-faced people that’s a different thing than coming up with a character that I would have to draw over and over again within the context of a comic strip.

A couple of months ago I was designing characters for my comic book prints, a project I have since abandoned, and I used the usual method of drawing faces from multiple angels, putting some clothes on them, and generally figuring out what each character should look like in the round. I put my time in and came up with a couple of characters but in the end it all bored me and it went nowhere. It seemed to be going somewhere for a while but then things derailed. I think it was because I didn’t have much to say with those characters. It’s key when developing a comic strip to have something to say with it.

One of the problems I have when trying to develop a new strip is that most of my ideas are dialogue based. They’re not about plot or stories but about people talking to each other. It seems that’s how I like to say things. In conversation. I already have my “Four Talking Boxes” strip that takes care of that so what else do I have to say with the comic strip medium? That is what I’m unsure of yet I still have the drive to be heard.

What I’d like to do is come up with something zany. Something along the lines of crazy cartoon animals bashing each other with sticks and stones. That’s not much of an idea though. It might be a starting point but it’s a staring point that’s never lead me anywhere yet. I hold out hope though. I’m going for zany once again. Maybe it will lead me somewhere this time. Of course that might be the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over yet hoping for different results.

This time I’m going with a different character design approach. It’s one I used before on a different comic strip project that went nowhere but I thought I’d try it out again. It’s one where I use a small .5 mm marker and draw tiny half inch tall drawings. I find that when doing character design that small I drop away all the extraneous detail that distracts me and helps me think in a different way. I used this method last year and came up with a half a dozen different characters that I did nothing with. Oddly enough I look back on those characters now and feel no connection with them. I think they became an exercise in pioneering this method of character design for me rather than actual character design.

This time the tiny little drawing are all about zany. So far I have some wacky little robots and something that kinda reminds me of the Kool-Aid guy. At least he has a big face on his body. I’m even doing these drawing in a sketchbook that I bought last year to jam out some designs in. Turns out I haven’t used this particular sketchbook very much. I’m somewhere around page ten and as I flipped back to check the date written on the earliest page I was surprised to see that it was dated from the end of May in 2011. I wouldn’t have guessed I’ve had this particular book that long but that’s why I date them. Time flies.

I know I probably won’t get to but I’d like to make this comic strip big. I’d like to do it on a piece of 22×30 inch watercolor paper. I think that would be real cool. Unfortunately I have no real reason to make it that big and it would pretty much condemn the strip to never being seen. I wouldn’t be able to scan in a comic that large and put it on my web site so the only place anyone would ever see it would be at my house. I already have enough paintings that fit that description and don’t think I need any comic strips to fit it too. That and I don’t yet have a comic strip to draw.

I’m not sure if I ever will have another comic strip to draw. I already do “Four Talking Boxes”, “Message Tee”, and “Drifting and Dreaming” so what would I need another for? I think it’s to make one that’s popular. I’ve never been good at popular. My work is quirky and individualistic. That rarely leads to popularity but I accept that. I like my work and think it’s good. When I do work where I try to gain popular appeal it never works out for me. It ends up being mediocre and no one likes it. Not even me. That’s why I generally resist the idea of trying to please others with my work but sometimes it creeps in.

I think it’s a general human trait to want to be popular and have people like what you do even if few people are able to achieve such a thing. For the most part I don’t think about being popular but sometimes I do. I think the idea for a zany strip is linked to that underlying drive. Most people like comic strips that are less about language and more about funny drawings. The comic pages are crammed with cats and dogs all doing silly stuff.

I think I’m going to have to stop character design for a little while and actually come up with some ideas. I’m not much of a gag man but I’m good at finding comedy in basic conflict. In real life I’m a little too good at that and have had to stop myself from inappropriately laughing many a time. It could be that’s why my humor has never been too popular. I’ve never been good at appropriate laughter.