Doesn’t that sound grand? As in “grandiose”?  You betcha it does.

Part of the point is how much I’ve learned in the first year of doing the Jones strip; about the process of doing a comic strip, about art, about writing a regular gag strip, and about my main character, Jones.

It took most of the year for me to allow Jones to achieve the lows he is truly capable of.  While he’s a relatively high functioning guy with great mechanical skills, he patches these moments together with alcohol-based glue.

Another thing I learned is the importance of honoring the world my strip is based in. One strip I though was particularly brilliant was one of my set relating to Sons of Anarchy.  I thought the art and gag were pretty right on.  However, the strip was kicked back by Terry Roorda at Thunder Press with a simple statement suggesting I give it another try.  Naturally my ego was temporarily tweaked. Within a few hours I realized that if he was willing to kick one back, he believed I was capable of more.  He didn’t really explain what he thought was weak about it, and I still have no idea. But I determined that the strip should have no outside references except the world I establish.  We’ll have no rip-offs (that’s really what I was doing) of other people’s work, attempting to capitalize on the popularity of some distantly related something in the hopes that I’ll get noticed or connected to something else great.  You should only have to read the strip you’re on to get it.

And in apparent defiance of that exact principle, I’ve been working to develop a broader storyline that reveals to us the true nature of our characters.  Essentially it’s still a gag oriented strip, but it’s important for me as the creator to understand deeply what really drives my characters to the comedic moments that we love.  In my day job we refer to that as characterization–the set of techniques used by an author (or cartoonist) to reveal personality traits. Frequently these involve the character’s name and appearance, their actions and words, and the reflective statements and actions about that character. All of these help the reader (or viewer) to understand the character more fully.

I think the more in touch with the characters I am, the more grab each individual strip will have.  Rather than a fast gag based on something funny I though up and developed, we have a moment to connect through comedy to a person that has more depth of character.  In the long run, I’ll enjoy the strip more, and I think I’ll have more return readers.

Clearly I’m over-thinking things a bit, but I did get to art through a side door via an English degree. At one point I had hopes of being a great novelist. The grandiosity hasn’t left me, I’ve just learned to see it for what it is, make fun of it, and do the work anyway.  It takes the pressure off and allows me to actually work.

Starting January 3, 2011, I’ll be doing two strips per week, black and white only.  I know you’ll enjoy the trip.  We’re actually re-setting the clock and going back before Jones actually meets Doc and Porkins.  The first month is pretty much about Jones, introducing an additional character each month.  I’m excited about it.