Hi, I’m Ben. I draw cartoons. You could say I’m a bit of a Toonhead. I’ve been reading/watching/loving cartoons as far back as I can remember.
I’ve been drawing webcomics since 2002. I decided to start a podcast as something of a production diary. I’d like to get people involved as I write and illustrate books and other projects. I want to get feedback from people who like what I do and I’d like to get some dialog going with other creators. And plenty of non-creators like to peek behind the scenes and see how things run so I thought, why not? Some of these will just be me giving away some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years, or earnestly asking questions of myself and to anybody listening. My brother Frank’s going to be on a few of them with me, as well as my buddy Kyle. Hopefully once things get going I can talk some of my other friends onto a few episodes, maybe get some interviews from other creators.
Right now I’m focusing on smaller collections of books. One-offs and possibly some ongoing series. (… serieses? serii?) After spending like 7 years with the same characters I think it’s time I just spent a couple weeks or so on individual ideas and see where it takes me. Setting that end goal of a finished book is very important. There’s the over-all goal of having a bunch of books to sell at cons but having the week-by-week breakdown is going to be important of feeling like I’ve accomplished something. In so many weeks I can say I finished a book. Then in so many months a series. I also consider myself something of an animator so I’m going to try my hand at things like flip-books and animated shorts. Those are probably going to be more long-term, though. Animating by yourself takes a lot of planning and laying stuff out. That’s why I got into comics – I could come up with an idea for a strip and post it online by the end of the day. It’s going to be interesting doing these self-contained stories.
When I made webcomics, it was usually about the strip for the day. Even if there was some over-arcing story the mind has to be focused on getting that day’s update done and posted. Making a book of that was usually selecting a chunk of story that could function by itself. And even then there’s going to be some overlap where the first couple of pages have to have some backstory on where the characters came from or how they got to that particular adventure, or something gets alluded to that only people visiting the site can understand. Even if your site only updates a couple times a week, putting comics on the web is a real grind and you have to have something there for people to see that day. When you get in that “strip-a -day” or whatever mindset it gets hard to work ahead and build a buffer and I find it creeps into the writing. Of course, when your strip doesn’t have a template and changes day by day it’s not particularly as solid, can be harder to follow, and you run the risk of having trouble printing it later. I think it’s probably best to have a page template – a certain aspect ratio you always use that will fit into books – but the actual panels can change depending on the story. Doing 3-4 panel comics can get you stuck in that particular rhythm. Thanks for listening to Episode Zero. Stay tuned for future episodes where I’ll talk about webcomics, stuff I’ve done, how to get started in webcomics, and other fun tips.