Cartoon Brian

Whoa. Is it Brighter in Here?

Some ten months ago, I announced plans for something of a refresh of the website redesign. And hey! It looks like I finally pulled through. The previous design was structurally well done, but aesthetically, it was very dark and segmented. I wanted a brighter, more unified look, and I think this design delivers in those respects. There are a couple more things I would like to do to add to the design, but, knowing me, it will likely be another ten months until those get done!

I also need to add more to the About page. That's coming, as well (in less than ten months, I hope).

That's all for now! In the meantime, check out the Big Skink Tales website, Facebook page, and Instagram feed for updates on what else I've been up to. Take care, and thanks for reading!

Cartoon Brian

Up Next for this Website

Hey folks! The commentaries keep rolling along. I just wrapped up the last one on Monday of this week. Those were actually a project I intended to have finished about six months ago, but I set unrealistic expectations for myself, and quite a few goals fell by the wayside over that time. I am learning to keep a more manageable schedule.

Up next for this site is to fill out the About page with some more information and improve the layout. I also want to create some new header art for the homepage and generally improve the look there, as well. I'd like to get a little more color and fun into the site layout, if I can.

I also posted my convention schedule for the rest of the year. I'll be at Eclipse Comic Con and Burg Comics Con on back-to-back weekends in August, and then at SEMO Con in Poplar Bluff in September. Eclipse Con and SEMO Con are both new conventions, so I'm excited to see what happens at those shows. Burg Con is a snappy 1-day show with a lot of energy and good people. This will be my third year there, and I always look forward to it.

That's all for now! Take care, and thanks for reading!

Cartoon Brian

Keeping Busy!

Big news on Six Legs, No Heart. Interior inking was finished last night! There's still a lot of work to do, including interior post-production and the cover, but the brunt of the workload is officially behind us! I'm planning to get as much work done over the next two weeks as possible to maximize lead time before Cape Comic Con 2017. Wish me luck!

I also only have 50 more Mike and the Ninja commentaries to write. I've been keeping ahead by at least a month since I started working on them, and while my buffer is growing somewhat smaller, I should finish Six Legs, No Heart in time to start writing commentaries again before they run out.

I'm amazed at how busy I've been with creative stuff! Now the only thing I need to get better at is telling you guys about it! One step I'm taking in that direction is improving my social media use and strategy. I recently converted the Mike and the Ninja Facebook page to a Big Skink Tales Facebook page, so it can encompass all of my projects instead of just Mike and the Ninja. Or, if you're more into Instagram, I also started a Big Skink Tales Instagram page, and that's honestly the best way you'll be able to get updates and teasers on works in progress, and looks at my process and art equipment.

That's all for now! As always, take care of yourselves, and thanks for reading!

Cartoon Brian

Progress Report and Cape Mini Con

Work continues on Six Legs, No Heart. Progress is slow, but steady. I'm in the middle of pencilling page 16 now. I've been preoccupied the last couple of weeks with a birthday party for my wife and a charity video game marathon, so I haven't been getting as much work done as I would like. Those events were great and a lot of fun, but now that they're over, it's time to get back on schedule.

Also, and I apologize for the short notice, I'm making one more comic con appearance this year! Cape Comic Con, my hometown convention, is partnering with the Crisp Museum at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus to host a mini comic con in conjunction with an art exhibit called "Heroes, Villains, and Monsters." It's at River Campus on Saturday, November 12, from 9am to 4pm, and you can find out all you need to know about it right here. I'll be there sketching, selling books, and probably working on Six Legs, No Heart, too. Come have a great day with us!

In the meantime, I gotta get back to work!

Cartoon Brian

Ramping Up Productivity

After a pretty serious hiatus from drawing, I have taken up pencil and paper again, putting serious work into my next project, Six Legs, No Heart, a comic about young homeowners fighting giant cockroaches. I will not meet my anticipated deadline of late summer to early fall, but might have it done in time for Christmas. If not then, Cape Comic Con 2017. I've also picked up a commission in the last 24 hours. I have major confidence issues in my artwork, but when I get on a roll, my art starts to look much better as I work out the inks, and my quickness improves, as well.

I feel good about my progress. I know that drawing and creating are really important to me because not doing those things makes me feel terrible. When life gets busy and I get tired, I look at my derelict drawing table and just feel sorry for myself, wishing I was doing something other than sitting around, spending my evenings vegging out after a long day. Even when there isn't a lot of time to spend creating, 15 or 20 minutes of drawing makes me feel so much better than drawing nothing because there's "not enough time." It's really easy to forget this, though. I wrote a blog some time ago urging people not to wait for the perfect time to do the things that are important to them, because there's never a perfect time. Naturally, I posted that blog and almost immediately stopped following my own advice.

Anyway, now that I'm on a roll, I need to stay productive and ride the power of positivity. (New Day rocks.)

Cartoon Brian

Mike and the Ninja at Burg Comics Con!

All right, folks. We've gotta talk about Burg Comics Con for a minute. It's a mere three Saturdays from today, it's in Harrisburg, Illinois, and Mike and the Ninja will be there! Here is the rundown:

Saturday, August 27th, 2016
10am - 6pm
Bonan Business Center
540 N. Commercial St.
Harrisburg, IL

If you need more info, Burg Comics Con has a website and a Facebook page you can check out.

I don't go to a lot of conventions, but of the ones I do go to, Burg Con is in a league of its own. Here's why:

  • FREE admission - That's right. It's free. But, a charitable donation to the Saline County 4CS is requested.
  • Make a donation, get FREE comics - Bring a non-perishable food item or toiletry donation, get free comics. You can find some obscure gems and collection completers in the long boxes, so it's worth your time if you're into comics. Plus, you get to help people.
  • Nice people, cozy venue - Convention attendees and vendors and artists are all super nice, positive, enthusiastic individuals. It is not a big convention, but it has great energy and exhibiting at the show made me feel really good and encouraged.

So! If you're in the area, and you like comics and fun, you need to be at this show. Platonic high fives available at my table, plus books and sketches and stickers and whatsits. Be there!

Cartoon Brian

Automatic Victory!

Well, it only took two and a half months and seemingly endless trial and error, but I finally got all of the automated processes on this website up and running. From now on, the comic should update automatically on weekdays. Hooray! It took forever, but I built it myself and it works (at least as far as I can tell), so all the headaches that went into it are now officially worth it. However, let me know if you encounter any bugs. The code works, but I know it's not perfect.

One caveat, however. If you're reading daily, the comic skipped ahead one page, so you'll have to go back one day to catch the page that got skipped over. When I assembled the database, I put in all the dates the comic is supposed to update automatically. However, when I was having to update the site manually every day, I missed one day a couple of weeks ago when life got super busy, so there is a 1-day difference in the manual updates and the automatic updates, which is why a page got skipped. Sorry about the mess.

That's all for now! I just needed to take a minute to gloat about my victory. But now, it is very late, and I must go to sleep. Take care, and thanks for reading!

Cartoon Brian

Come See Mike and the Ninja at Lebanon Comic Con!

I had the pleasure of exhibiting at the first-ever Lebanon Comic Con last Halloween. Exhibiting at the 2nd annual show this weekend was a no-brainer; not only do Amanda and I have family in Lebanon, but we had such a good time at the convention last year that we couldn't say no this year.

The convention is June 17-19 in Lebanon, Missouri. I, personally, will only be there Saturday and Sunday. However, Amanda will be manning the booth all three days, and she'll have Mike and the Ninja books and swag with her all three days, as well as the Night of the Dragon trilogy by DL Moore.

In other news, the website is still coming along and is still very much a work-in-progress. Time has been short lately, so little has been done to improve site automation features and adding extra content to the About page and so on. But it's coming!

Also, last night, I finally began drawing my next project, Six Legs, No Heart, a 26-page comic book about giant bugs. Granted, I only drew a panel and a half, so it was an inauspicious start, but a start nonetheless. I've had the thing written for a few months now, but had to overcome the debilitating fear I have when starting any kind of project like this. I felt the same thing about Mike and the Ninja, which is part of the reason why it took me eight years to actually dedicate myself to it. At least this time, it was only a matter of months instead of a matter of years.

That's all for now! Take care, and thanks for reading!

Cartoon Brian

2-Week Progress Report

Hello, everyone! I hope you are enjoying the relaunch of Mike and the Ninja and the accompanying commentary. It has been a surprising amount of fun for me to read through them again and record my thoughts. I'm really unimpressed by some of it, but I'm amazed at my sense of humor at other times. There are a lot of jokes in these pages that I'm not sure I would have come up with today. I don't know if my taste in humor has changed, or if I'm just less funny now, but there is some good stuff in here!

As far as the website goes, there is still a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do. The new website is actually supposed to be automated--the current day's page should appear on the homepage, and the archive should automatically update. However, I don't have it all working yet, so I'm updating the site manually every weekday morning. It turns out I know a lot less about PHP than I thought, and all the automation and archiving aspects of the website are causing a lot of problems. If I had known it was going to be this much trouble, I would have found a different solution. I'll get it figured out one of these days; I keep pecking away at it during the times when I haven't lost all patience with it. The About page will get more things added to it as we get deeper into the archive, and an Extras page is forthcoming.

That's all for now! Thank you very much for your continued support of Mike and the Ninja. I'll be back again soon with more updates, and new comics will continue to be posted on weekdays. Take care!

Cartoon Brian

Relaunch Primer

Welcome to the new Mike and the Ninja dot com. It is fully equipped with mobile friendliness, search engine optimization (well, maybe), proper coding, 4-wheel drive, and several secret compartments where ninja are probably hiding right now.

Naturally, I didn't get everything done in time that I wanted to, and I haven't really had much opportunity to test for bugs, so if you notice anything strange happening, let me know, and I'll try to get it worked out as quickly as possible.

So, the conversation I kept having with myself during this process went something like this: Why make a new website for Mike and the Ninja? It's done. You finished it in 2013. Why put so much time and energy into something that's already done? Why not focus this energy on your new projects so you can make them better and finish them quicker?

Well, I have my reasons for that. To start, as a website designer, I couldn't stand the old website. I built it at a time when I still only kind of knew what I was doing, so the website was serviceable, but not properly built and a big mess behind the scenes. Now, I think I'm at a point where I actually know what I'm doing, so I wanted to finally apply that knowledge to Mike and the Ninja's online presence. It was three or four years overdue. Plus, mobile friendliness is now an essential part of web design, so it was necessary to incorporate that, as well.

Secondly, as an artist, I'm really proud of Mike and the Ninja. It is not perfect, but it is, by far, the biggest artistic endeavor I have ever undertaken, and I think it deserves an active, professional-looking online presence. It is a webcomic, after all.

Lastly, as a business person(?), I don't think it's ever a good idea to let a brand stagnate or appear inactive, and that is exactly what I've let happen to Mike and the Ninja. Aside from convention appearances, I haven't done much of anything with it since the series ended, and this website redesign is intended to help rectify that error.

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoy the re-release and the artist commentary that will accompany each page. Take care, and thank you for reading!