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February 02, 2008


Larry Levine

John, Artistically beautiful & funny as heck! The ink lines, especially the close-up in panel 2, have a Walt Kelly feel to 'em.


Wow, Thanks Larry! I've been a fan of Walt Kelly since I was 13 years old and have studied his style for many years. I guess the lessons have finally begun to sink in.
It's also gratifying to hear that the strip made you laugh, as I noticed that I actually wrote a "clean" strip completly by accident. There is not one swear word in the whole thing. Well, unless mentioning "3rd base" counts.
Can I get a ruling on that? Anyone? How many folks actually know what 3rd base is,(beyond the late 80's rap group that is.)

Larry Levine

John, Did you ink this with the Kuretake brush pen?

Michael J. Ruocco

You know what, I didn't really notice the fact that there are no swears in this strip either. The comic itself is so good, that it don't need the cusses to make us laugh (although the swears do give it a little extra kick).

The comic looks great this week. Usually to me, a comic is hard to see when there's no tones (I'm partially "color/tone blind"), but your staging and the poses really make it easier on my eyes. Your poses here are very clear and easy to read. You probably could tell what was going on without using dialogue.

I just bought a nice set of Rapidograph pens. Usually, I use a size 1 Pigma Graphic pen, but they dry out as soon as I open them. I'm rarin' to try these babies out. Maybe I could use them for my next installment.


Yes I did. The key with the Kuretake is to NOT use the cartridges that come with it, but to use a special fountain pen resevoir filled with Rapidiograph Ultradraw ink. I got thte idea from this:
Story artist James Robertson gave me the heads up on this. I was using the Pitt brush pens until I read that tutorial. It changed my life.


Hey! We posted at the same time Michael!!!
Thank you sir! I am going to try to go sans tones for a while. Hey, Walt Kelly never used tones, he just shaded it with little brush lines. Charles Schulz mainly relied on blacks to guide the eye, rarely useing letratone.
I have never successfully used a technical pen for anything but ruling panel borders. Good luck with those, sir!!
I like the size 1 pigmas. I used to draw the finer stuff in this strip with one of those back when I was drawing it on a 2"x8" strip.


You're hitting a nice stride here. The line work is getting a nice combo of cleanliness and expressiveness and everyone feels very much "on model." Although, they're your characters, so as long as you're drawing them could they ever really be off model??? Anyway, this strip is interesting, because there isn't a whole lot of new info in this installment, just a continuation of the comedic situation in the previous episode, but it's the character play that's entertaining. Yee!

Ben Williams

I'm lovin' the line work, it seems looser and more comfortable. As for the lack of tone, I personally prefer it when you use them on the strip but I can see why you'd want to try out sans tones for a bit. Many a great artist has made it work, just look at 'Bone'. I'm really diggin' the facial expressions of all the characters in this strip too, especially in panel 2, pretty specific stuff.


Hey Lee-Roy! Thanks! Yeah, I don't really have "models" as such. I just draw them until they look like themselves.
You are right about the strip not conveying anything new. I'm basically milking the premise, something tha I learned from reading and studying the work of Charles Schulz and Johnny Hart. They knew how to milk a comic premise without beating it to death. Bill Watterson was a master of this too.

Hey Ben!!! Thank you! I think some tone may be in order too, but I'm going to see if I can bone up on my inking chops and supply it with hand shading and feathering and judicious spotting of blacks.
I'm working very hard to achieve specific acting these days, both at work and in the strip. I'm on a new project at work (super secret!) and the director wants to see very specific acting and attitudes. Fun!!!! Panel 2 was a lot of fun to draw.
The fun thing about this particular storyline is that there are many choices I can make, and there are a lot of things I've wanted to do for a long time that I might just go ahead and do.
In particular, I'm itching to draw some action sequences again.
Stay tuned, it's gonna be fun!


Living lines and great epression -- this stands pretty well without any tone! I dig.


Hey Mitch!!! Thanks! I'm glad you dig!
Hey everybody, I recieved this from the good Mr. Steve LeCouilliard on my PLaxo page( Plaxo is a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook):

"Nice! I like the way everybody is talking and nobody is communicating. I love that kind of writing.

Re: Photoshop, do you know how to adjust levels? it might be nice to remove those grey smudges.

Oh, and did you ever work for John K. ? That unicorn really reminds me of Mr. Horse..."

Thanks Steve! And thanks for the tip about the level adjust! I'll give that a try!

The last bit is a reference to who the John K influence is creeping into my work. I've been drawing the Unicorn more and more like Mr. Horse. Here is something someone said to me on a blog called "PVP makes me Sad" (yes, blog that is all about critiqueing PVP!)

" Spork said...
Hey John. Your strip bites off John Kricfalusi's style big time."

IF John K is reading this, then let me say that I never intended to "bite off" his style. I am hugely influenced by it and have said so time and again. Hell, it's his Mighty Mouse cartoons that made me want to get into the business in the first place.
One thing I will say in my defense is that the style of humor and the writing is mine. I have influences in terms of writing and John is definately one of them, but I am definatley not "biting off" anything when I write this. These gags are from my head, good or bad.
The interesting thing is that this guy commented to me on the other blog. He didn't come here. Why? At least our good buddy Handel would answer me in a place he in knew I'd see.


Hey John, the strips great but I missed the unicorns pinkness in this one. Other than that the lines and expressions are tops!

I guess the unicorn is the most John K-like, but to me all your characters personalities stand above their looks! As you say, you wear your influences on your sleeve and I respect that. At the end of the day, you have a lot more going on under all the visual influences (which are way more than just John K!) and that's what's important.


Hey thanks Gareth! I kind of miss the pink too. I may just experiment with some different methods of doing tones yet. I just wanted to see if my drawings read with out them.
On the influence front, I agree that the Unicorn is the most John K like, but then his face is the most "human", and I tend to do the most "John K" like stuff on human faces.
One of the reasons for the "John K" like expressions and drawings is that I've been studying his site and checking out a lot of the stuff he recommends. In particular, I've been really studying the Clampett stills he's been posting. In other words, I've been studying his influences and incorporating that into my work. And, did I mention that I took a class taught by Spumco alum Eddie Fitzgerald at Cal Arts? The Spumco look hard wired into my style and has been for over 20 years.
Beyond that, the next two biggest influences are Walt Kelly and Chris Sanders. Go look at the way Chris draws that Kitty with the eypatch in "Kiskaloo" and then take a long hard look at Chippy and you'll see what I mean. Sorry to drone on like this, but I like to talk about cartooning and influences
As for writing, my influences there range from George Carlin, Howard Stern and Patton Oswalt to Monty Python, David Cross, Bob Oedenkirk, Kids in the Hall, The Young Ones, Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen and Kurt Vonnegut etc.


No worries John! I love to talk about cartooning and influences too. I'm still making sense of my own influences and how I use them. Sometimes I wonder if thinking about them too much stumps your creativity though. I end up worrying if I have bitten people off or not...

Your writing influences are interesting as many of them I'm not familiar with. I think that maybe something to do with me being over the pond but I will have to check some of them out in the future.

Steve LeCouilliard

Hm, that's really interesting that you mention your writing influences, John. Woody Allen is a big favourite of mine too, along with Monty Python, of course. I don't think anyone who's into comedy is NOT influenced by the Pythons, being that they're sort of the Beatles of sketch comedy. Do you like early (pre-SpaceBalls) Mel Brooks?

I definitely see the Walt Kelly in your work too, especially in this strip. I love the way that guy could get 2 months worth of material out of a simple misunderstanding. Like the fact that there's another Georgia in the Soviet Union. Take that Sienfeld! (not that there's anything wrong with Sienfeld).

As far as stumping your creativity, Gareth, I think that if your influences are far-ranging and varied enough, that won't be a problem. I don't know who said it first, but, "Stealing from one source is plagiarism, stealing from a few sources is derivative, but stealing from a lot of sources is well-researched!"


Which of my influences are you unfamiliar with? It would be interesting to hear what makes it across the pond as it may give us a clue as to what kind of humor is "without borders".
Hey Steve! I like Woody Allen's "early funny" movies the most. I recently saw "Annie Hall" and was totally blown away by it. It's jumped into my top 10 favorite comedies, that's for sure. The stuff that really affected my work however was Woody Allen's non-fiction writing, like "Without Feathers" and "Getting Even". I read that stuff in high school, and it affects me to this day. Funny!
I like some of Mel Brooks's stuff. "Young Frankenstien" and "Blazing Saddles" are good.
Walt Kelly is hard-wired into my DNA. I loved his art and I loved his writing. Misunderstanding, miscommunications and characters that just refused to "get it" were his stock in trade. One of my favorite storylines involves Albert, Chruchy and Howland somehow become convinced that there is a raging blizzard outside even though it is in the high 90's in mid July.

One influence I was remiss in mentioning is Kevin Smith. It isn't hard to see the influence his brainy yet profane dialogue has had on my writing.
New strip is coming! Sorry for the delay! Stay tuned!

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