Rob with Bay Area legend George Webbe

I had a chance to go to the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on October 17, just a week ago.  There’s so much I’d love to share about what a great time that was.  I could actually only handle about four hours of it before started fearing I’d buy all the neat art I found there.

Highlights include meeting George Webber of FeverDreams/No Cash Comics, Paige Braddock of Jane’s World, the Carpe Chaos crew, Daniel fromMonster Commute, and so many others. It was terrific seeing so many people doing art and media their own way and making a living from it.  I’m definitely going again next year.

One of the reasons I went was to attend a workshop put on by Jonathan Lemmon, the guy who does the Rabbits Against Magic comic strip. I found Rabbits Against Magic last year while searching for info on making a comic.  He sent me a cool postcard that I now have up in my office/studio.

The workshop was on Developing a Comic Strip.  I really had no idea what the contents of the workshop would be, but I figured anything would help.  I was actually the only person present who had a working strip.  The workshop validated a lot of things I’ve been doing, and suggested direction to strengthen my work further.

As a result of the workshop I’ve been doing some writing about the characters in my strip.  As a guy who teaches a period of English and has an English degree, I’m not sure I’d actually call it writing beyond the physical act of putting words on a page.  There are no actual sentences, just a simple set of identifying characteristics about (so far) Jones, Doc, and Porkins.  Eventually I need to do a few other characters, but Lemmon emphasized the importance of keeping the number of characters to a few.  On the other hand, one of my major inspirations, Doonesbury, has a few sets of characters and multiple parallel plots.  Dangerous role model to go by considering the amount of practice and excellence Trudeau has behind him.  But I’m only going to add characters I need so I can keep it focused and not loose myself too much.

The process of just developing these few characters a bit has been terrific. I found out their ages and figured out why they know each other.

I’d actually been seriously considering taking Porkins out of the strip, but had such fun working on his character that he came up a notch or two.  Still a complete gomer, though.

I thought of doing the written development a year ago when I started working on the strip, but felt I just needed to roll a bit with it and see where it took me.  Now I have some direction that is based on real experience; it’s not forced by a set of predetermined conditions.  It really does give some direction to work better, and should make doing the strip easier and have more clear identity in the characters and the strip.

I did decide to get rid of Porkins’ girlfriend who showed up a few times last winter.  The fact that she was way out of his league didn’t bother me, but I’m actually thinking about having him live with his mom.  Seems to fit his character better.

Mostly it’s top secret, guarded by bad handwriting, but here are a few tidbits:

  • Porkins owns his own mobile tech business
  • Doc is a veteran of the invasion of Grenada (anybody remember that one?)
  • Jones is a hot shot airbrush and pinstripe dude

Stay tooned while more unfolds.