New rules

February 22, 2018

  1. Always have something to work on.

Plan your next comic as you close in on the end of your current work. Never have nothing to work on because you’ll lose your momentum and there’s little else more difficult to build up than momentum. This is a lesson I learned early on.

2.Try, try, try not to write for other cartoonists.

I recall a time when an older artist told me that “comics are poetry. And only other poets read poetry.” I struggle with this all of the time; the thought of what other cartoonists will think of what I’ve been working on. It sounds so stupid, but really the only thing that matters is if you’re doing work that pleases yourself.

3.Create more media than you take in.

Simply put, social media turns me into a panic stricken, knee-jerk reactionary, always looking and ready for a daily dose of outrage, jealousy and paranoia. It’s not good for me. I felt fear and anxiety everyday because of it. Is the human brain meant for so much incoming lunacy? I made a point to use it only to share whatever I’ve been working on. 2-3 new comics or drawings a week and that makes me feel great.

4.Different project, different dimensions, different reasons.

I have a personal way of working that I’ll share with you: Blammo is my comic book series which I take very seriously. Since I began this comic book series 11 years ago it’s become an annual chart of my progress as a cartoonist. And so I put my all into writing better stories with better art every single issue. Everything I put in there must have some significance to me or it’s not allowed. I draw these pages in my home on 11X17 sheets of bristol board.

The first Fante Bukowski book was drawn in a 6X9 sketchbook during my breaks while working a day job at Panera bread. Using a sketchbook gave me permission to be loose and free with the comic. The unpolished art somehow made it funnier and easier for me. It worked out quite well doing it that way, and so for the following Fante Bukowski comics I’ve kept working at that same small size. I can carry the pages around in my backpack and work on them anywhere I am. I don’t ever stress out about those comics.

9X12 became a comfortable page size for me to work with for all other books I draw.  I have a cardboard folder I place pages-in-progress into. I don’t like to feel stuck in my apartment and so it’s important for me to be able to carry my work with me, safely, so that I can go to a coffee shop, or library, or even when I travel out of state. It’s a great portable size.

5. Never fear a blank page.

Here’s something to do, take your phone and flip through your photos. What’s going on in there? Daydream, remember, recall, see what those pictures from your life are and you’ll have something to write about.



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