So this is the last Straw Man strip for the time being. I have another set of ideas for the next “arc” but I’m not sure when that’ll happen. I can’t accurately predict when I’ll get back to the Strips. This seemed like a good beat to end things on. We know certain people are ok. We know that justice has been served. The characters aren’t sitting in limbo anymore. When I started the strips up in June of 2009 I wasn’t really thinking of the endgame. I just missed the characters but I didn’t have a commitment to finishing what I started. I had some ideas for non Straw Man comics I wanted to do but about a year ago I realized it would bad to leave things hanging as they were. The only sensible thing to do was to finish the strips and then move on to that “other” project I wanted to do. What was weird is that as I continued to work on the strips I found that my enjoyment continued to increase. Instead of going straight for the bad guy ending that I originally conceived of, I took time to develop characters and play up the drama a little more. It just felt more rewarding overall.
What’s weird is that Straw Man Strips sort of exists in a pocket universe of it’s own. Technically speaking it’s supposed to take place between issue 9 & 10 of Straw Man, but the tone is really different from the those two issues. Part of the reason for keeping things separate was the fact that Tom Fink invented the character of Pepe when he was writing the strips (#7-15). Tom could no longer commit to writing the strips and he had left the story in flux. I took it upon myself to finish writing the strip and try to wrap up loose ends the best I could. Straw Man ends up firing Pepe. I did this so that I wouldn’t be using a character that I didn’t have 100% copyright stake in.
It then occurred to me that I could use Straw Man strips as a promotional tool to get people interested in my business. I immediately had Straw Man make up with Pepe and I set the two loose on an adventure. My commitment to the project was not 100% and eventually (with the birth of my first born Ava) everything non-essential got pushed to the side. Weeks became months. Months became years.
I have no intention of doing that again. I can work fast and I enjoy working fast. So the question is, why can’t I finish 2 more comics? A measly 44 pages? Quite frankly I’m making it as difficult as possible on myself. I’ve made a commitment to create artwork at a skill level I have no business attempting. I have no doubt that when I’m finished with 1-12 that I’ll be creating more work. That work will be closer in tone and spirit to what I’ve done with Straw Man strips.
The current plan is to do stuff in the vein of “It Came from the Spam Box”. Doing the Straw Man Strips stuff really seemed to open me up as an illustrator and cartoonist far beyond what I was trying to achieve with the Straw Man 12 issue series. I guess the reason why I’ve enjoyed doing the strips so much is because they’re mostly me doing whatever comes naturally. I think that’s important to developing a unique voice. I think having a unique voice is important to success. I tried taking the shortcut by aping the styles of others (to varying degrees of success) but it always a labor of love (and hate).
Another reason why it might take a while for me to get started again is that I’ll need to be sure of what format I’m going to be using from here on out. About 10 of the strips were published by the Cameron Collegian so it made sense for them to be in the traditional horizontal format. I found that when the first strips were collected in the original “Color Special” that I did not enjoy rotating the book and holding it like a calendar. Since true horizontal printing is hard to come by it only makes sense to reformat the strips into the traditional book set up.
So this is what I’m going to do next. I’ll be collecting strips 1-56, adding Grocery Shopping, and the Vacuum Salesman story from the color special. The book will be retitled “Straw Man Adventures”. It will probably feature a new cover. If space permits we’ll included some of the pin ups from the original color special. Obviously I’m going to have to look over the material an evaluate what format would be best (1 issue or 2). Some strips will be re-colored. I may even add faux newsprint to the entire book. So it’ll be a handsome package when it’s all done.
Of course you’ll still see new work from me every week through CBR’s “The Line it is Drawn”. I’ve already put in about 6 months worth of drawings already. Hard to believe how quickly time flies any more.
We’re officially getting closer to finishing out this “arc” in Straw Man strips. I’m working towards and ending and then I’ll take a short break while I figure out how the next story will proceed. I’ve got a lot of ideas where I can take things from here so I want to make sure I take the best path before starting.
This week I experimented with a couple of things to arrive at the final strip. I have the hardest time of drawing something “ordinary” and giving it life. Unfortunately in everyday life there’s a lot of boring stuff out there. In the case of this image it’s the scene of a man crawling towards a wall. The wall itself doesn’t have anything special about it. So I’m left with the problem of adding drama to something that’s inherently bland. I’ve kept my eyes open to how other artists solve this problem and while it works for them I haven’t found a solution that works for me. Last weekend at Planet Comicon I had some free time so I started sketching the page. I had done a few 30 minute sketches that weekend and found them to be full of energy but inherently flawed images. I thought I should apply that same energy to my pencils and then reflect that in my inking. I feel like this approach is the only way I’ll ever come up with something that’s powerful and uniquely “David”.
With the color I chose what I thought were some pretty neon colors and was pretty happy with the overall look. Not my normal color pallet but I thought it would work for this round. Then I remembered Pixlr-o-matic’s website that gives any image an “instagram” treatment. I decided to run the strip through a few filters out of curiosity. I loved the results but thought they were a tad too bold so I took the original image and merged it with the new Pixlr image by adjusting the transparency of the original. I think the end result is very satisfying and may end up informing future work.