Monday, July 10, 2017

On the nature of mistakes.


First a little back story.

When I was a young man making my way in the world of advertising, the older, more experienced art directors taught me a lot about learning from my mistakes. One episode I remember very vividly was a time when we were on a very tight schedule chasing after some deadline of some magazine for some client.

Those particulars are lost in the haze of time but I do remember that it had to do with a photo that needed to be retouched by an airbrush artist. It was a C print. C prints were expensive and took at least over night to be made from a 2 1/4' x 2 1/4" film transparency. I  mistakenly ordered a print of an outtake not the approved photo. They were very similar. So similar that it was hard to tell them apart. I gave it to my favorite retouch artist as a super hot rush job. He did a great job in the allotted time. I ordered a PMT to show the engraver the positioning and cropping on the key line mechanical.

So after I assembled the key line, marked up instructions to the engraver on a tissue overlay, I got an okay from the Account Executive, who was looking for typos.
He signed off on it and I handed it over to the Production Department. When press proofs of the ad came in, it was then that I recognized to my absolute horror I'd used the wrong photo. It wasn't even the headline photo--it was a small inset that the type wrapped around.

I discovered this mistake while everyone was out for lunch. I was so upset I couldn't even eat.

After lunch, I confessed my dereliction of duty to to my direct superior, the Executive Art Director.
I had failed the him, I had failed the agency, I had failed the client and worse of all, I had failed the product itself. The Executive AD squinted at the press proof, looking at the right picture and then at the wrong picture. cigarette smoke curling out of the ever present cigarette between his fingers and said "Ahhh, don't worry about it. It doesn't change the meaning of the product's selling points to the consumer."

" Are you sure? Won't they notice?"

"Maybe, eventually"  he said. "If they do do what is the worst thing that can happen to you? You won't die, The worst they can do is fire you but they won't. The account director signed off on it anyway. That small picture they won't notice, A big late fee from the magazine? They'll notice that."

And then he said "You'll probably never make a mistake like that again."

I don't remember making that kind of mistake again but goofs always happen.
It was a lesson in coping with errors.


Tales of the Beanworld #1.




















When TOTB #1 came out I had been in adverting a long time. In fact, I was the Executive Art Director now. My deal with Eclipse Comics was that if  I made my comics without an upfront page rate, made my own film negatives, and did advertising and marketing work for them, they would solicit, print, distribute and collect money from the distributors at no charge. It was a good deal.

When the first copies arrived at the agency. First thing I always do is make sure the pages are in order. Then I can relax. Then, I don't know if it was me or someone else in the office but I became aware of a mistake on the cover,






Uh oh!






I was horrified!
As Dr. Strange used to say "Curse me for a novice!"
Of course no one in the greater world of comic books noticed but me.
But as many of you can attest, if you bring me a TOTB#1 I will happily repair the mistake and fill in the gap. I'll sign the correction too.

I learned how to live with mistakes.
They happen.

Hoka Hoka Burb'l Burb'l!

Bob Heer, a longtime Beanworld reader and proprietor of Gunk'l'dunk asked "Does Proffy turn invisible on page 146 or was that a mistake?"


My answer was "Bob, if I have to choose between Proffy going invisible or a creator error--I'll plead the mistake."



The proper panel is shown below. Proffy disappeared when I was converting the 22 layer PSD file into a 2 layer print-ready TIF (art and lettering on separate layers). Doing some forensic research into my PhotoShop files it looks like I was fixing a typo and deleted poor Proffy right at the moment she was making a profound observation about a key turning point in the Cuties' lives. 

I was kinda was surprised that my reaction was "Oh well, mistakes do happens." When and if the book is reprinted it will be corrected. 

But if you want to correct it yourself, feel free to download the panel and place it in your book.
Just think of it as Do-It-Yourself Beanworld 2.0


Hopefully I didn't make too many mistakes in this post.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

So, where did I disappear to?







































It's hard to believe that Hoka Hoka Burb'l Burb'l is out in the world after all these years.
In the Afterword I explain some of the reasons why it took me so long.

After a lot of personal ups and downs, in the spring of 2016, I finally settled down and started acting like a serious comic-book creator again. After last year's San Diego Comic-Con, I promised any one who was listening that I couldn't dare show up at Comic-Con 2017 unless I had a finished book in hand. (It was kinda close, y'know?)

In order to accomplish this I had to shut out the world and be totally immersed in Beanworld. That meant ignoring almost everyone I know, and stop looking at Twitter, Facebook and all comics related news sites.I reached a point that the seemingly endless crawl of things in my feeds were either people squabbling over politics or ranting about corporate comics stuff I'd stopped caring about.

I recognized that after 30+ years I didn't have to know everything about the business anymore because no one was paying me to know all that stuff anymore. (I'm not even sure it is possible anymore.) It was liberating in a way only a few former colleagues can really understand.

The only social media I participated in was Vine and to a lesser extent Tumblr.
I loved Vine.
Exploring the endless visual and sound possibilities of a six second video loop was seductive.
Vine was the perfect distraction.
Over time, I fell into the company of a ragtag bunch of visual artists, writers, photographers, and people that are just really funny.

The best part was, with very few exceptions ( Hello,TheMisterBumboShow.), hardly anyone on Vine knew anything about me beyond the stuff I was regularly posting. I participated in a few local Vine meet-ups and I didn't try to hide Beanworld or anything, I talked about it as much as anyone wanted to. Being a comic book creator just wasn't that big a deal. Going to Comic-Con was though. People were often very impressed that I could get into Comic-Con because it was all but impossible for them to go. That I went was for more impressive then the fact that I was an exhibitor.

It was in the digital company of these folks for three years that I mostly interacted with as I worked on Beanworld. Twitter shut down Vine right about the time I was really digging into The Battle to Finish Book Four. It was a very sad time for Vine folks. But the truth was, most people didn't "get" Vine beyond it being a temporary novelty. Twitter shut it down because there just weren't enough people there anymore.

I took my act over to Instagram where a whole lot of people do know me. Instagram can't handle a perfect loop but it's close enough for me. In the process I taught myself the fundamentals of iMovie and settled in there.

I make little collages of pictures and sound.
I find the pictures randomly.
I open my Tumblr feed and start scrawling down.
I choose an image or bit of film and I start chopping it up and blending it in with others bits of stuff into a very fast animation that soon has a sort of life of its own.

Then I add music from my library and give it a title.
Those are the three pieces--movement, music, title--each influencing the other.
I only use music from my own digital collection--it's music I've been listening to all my life and I "just know" what song to use and what part of a song to use.

Then I post it and that's that.
It usually takes me about 10 to 30 minutes.
I generally make  'em at night and in bed.

They have absolutely nothing to do with Beanworld--not directly anyway.
It's the same brain that channels Beanworld but some different part of it.
To me the process of selecting and combining the various elements are part of an act of creation made out of "found objects" like any collage.

When I start I don't know what will be on my feed.
I don't know what things will be near each other on my feed.
It's not 100% random but it sure feels like it.

And that is the kind of thing that I like.

Here is one.
And another.
And so on.

My old stuff is in the museum that is all that remains of Vine.




Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ramblings of a Third Grader?



This is an unabashed plug for the Kickstarter drive of a great little illustrated book called Ramblings of a Third Grader.

It was written by one of my best friends, Suzy Kuperschmidt--when she was in third grade!

I'll quote Suzy from her Kickstarter pitch:
Explore the world through the eyes of a third grader that didn't have access to an iPhone, XBOX, laptop or some other mode of information-gathering system. This third grader actually had to write legibly with a #2 pencil.
In 1964, I remember riding my bike to the library (without a helmet) and the excitement I felt when I found the perfect book to check out. My quirky little stories in RaMbLiNgS bring that sense of nostalgia to the pages of this book from a third grader's innocence of awe and wonder. I also created My RaMbLiNgS spiral notebook for kids to write their own quirky stories and create art masterpieces.Nothing makes me smile more than seeing a child reading an actual book with dog-eared pages. It takes me back to a simpler time.For a brief moment, sit back, relax and stroll down memory lane with me and see if you can spot the misspelled words and bad grammar! 
Here is the inside scoop: Suzy’s primary school teacher, Mrs. Sewell, encouraged her young students to keep a journal and to write in it as much and as often as possible. The stories our little Suzy wrote are filled with the pure awe, wonder, and written with the innocence of a child. And yet, there are so many hints and clues foreshadowing the person Suzy would become as an adult.

Our little Suzy then

Suzy now

Yes, it's true, as you see when you hit the link, I wrote the introduction to the book--I was delighted to--Suzy and I worked together closely for 8 years during my tenure at McFarlane Toys (actually she was Suzy Thomas then) and she is one of the kindest, zaniest, most trustworthy human beings I've ever known. I'd trust her with with my life.


Ever since her third grade spiral journals in the Beatles notebooks resurfaced, Suzy has had a driving desire to have the books illustrated and published. Thanks to the wonder of Kickstarter she has a the pathway to do it. 

But she needs your help.
She's getting closer to her goal but if you can take a look at her page and toss in a few bucks--you will not be disappointed. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Larry Marder cosplay: LOTR Ent!



Angry young man
 at  Greenleaf Beach
Lake Michigan
Chicago IL
  in the late '70s. 

One thing I'm sure of is that this was taken
before I discovered Gran'Ma'Pa
and I had no idea where my life was going to take me.

Happy Halloween to all the Leguminati!