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December 9th, 2020

Horrible Draftsman Is Horrible

 

Last two panels of the last strip in episode 31. Notice all the erasure marks on the one on the left. No kidding, I really am a hunt and peck draftsman. It probably makes it a lot more work than it would otherwise be if I had more formal training. I just eyeball everything. But there is a method here to my drawing a figure and you can see a bit of it in the panel on the right.

I start with a bunch of circles and ovals and draw some rough grid lines over them and then start fleshing things out. Circles and ovals for the head, arms, abdomen and hips, a kind of odd triangular form for the chest and rib cage. It gives me a start on where to put things. I have no idea where I came up with this but it’s something I’ve used to help me get a figure drawn for ages. I suspect it’s stuff I’ve pulled from various artist’s guide books over the decades. A kind of desperate dumpster diving for an art education.

Note the bit of tracing paper I’ve taped to that last panel. This is my crutch. This panel was, for me, a complex pose, and I needed to get it just right for the gag at the end of the episode to work. I made several starts on it and wasn’t satisfied with about half of it, but the other half was in the ballpark. So I layed a bit of tracing paper over the part I liked to try various solutions for the part I couldn’t seem to get right. Doing this, I can just toss the paper overlay when I see myself backing myself into a rut, and just start over fresh on another piece of tracing paper if I needed to. I can also move the tracing paper around to see if adjusting it this way and that makes it any better. This saves me from potentially erasing all the way through the drawing below it in a struggle to find the right lines…like I almost did on the left panel (which I’m still working on…). When I get something I finally like, I’ll stick the tracing paper Under the drawing, trace over its lines to complete the drawing, and put it aside. Sometimes I just leave it there when I put the paper I’m going to do the inks over it.

There was more work to do but I know when it’s time to just stop for the night and see what I see when I look at it again with fresh eyes in the morning. Which I did early this morning. I think I have it all good now.

So now it’s on to the inks. The pencils are the hardest part of the work for me, and the most time consuming. And the part I’m always the most afraid of. But I think I’m finally learning that if I just keep struggling with it eventually I get it right. At least I’m getting more confidence in that.

Soon I’ll lay another sheet of the same art velium over this one, stick them both on the big LED light board, and do the inks. That way…and again this is all because I’m really insecure about my drafting abilities…if I screw it up I still have the untouched pencils and I can start over with a new sheet of art velium. It seems the pros all just ink right over the pencil lines. I will never have enough nerve to do that.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Horrible Draftsman Is Horrible

December 7th, 2020

Walk Over And Say Something To Him…

A Coming Out Story, episode 31 in progress on the drawing board. When the drawing you’re working on makes you relive old anxieties…

 

…and I got that look 40+ years later too. So it goes…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Walk Over And Say Something To Him…

December 5th, 2020

Trying To Maintain A Head Of Steam…

Starting the pencils on episode 31. Once again it’ll just be three strips, four panels each. Maybe if I just treat it like it’s a paying job I might get these done sooner. I want to get all three in this story arc finished by year’s end…which is just a few weeks away so maybe that’s a tad optimistic. The pencils are the most difficult part for me, since I’m really just a self trained hunt and peck draftsman. But mostly…I’d say four fifths of it, is overcoming my self doubts and just doing the work. Once I get into it and build up a head of steam for it, I can bang things out pretty well. The electric eraser (off panel in this photo) does get a lot of work though.

I have a template that gives me the size of each strip, and grid lines for two, three and four panels to a strip. I have saved line art that’s just the two, three and four panel frames, that I copy over to the working line art file after I’ve scanned in the line art and copied it over to a master image file. If the panels are oddly sized I tweak it in GIMP using a transform tool that lets me extend or compress the panel sizes.

I’ve got all this down to a pretty uniform workflow, which is what made moving it over to GIMP a stressful process. But it turned out not to be so bad after all. Just a few tweaks to it and I’m back in business.

[Update…] Well well…I got the first strip pencils done…generally. There are still details to flesh out, but the essence of it is done. Took about two hours.

I need to remember this. I can do the work in a reasonable amount of time. Most of the time between episodes of this story has been dallying because I’m afraid of not being good enough to draw anything but crap.

Well…and not being able to figure out how to tell parts of it…

And it’s true that some of what I’ve drawn in past years I’m appalled to look at now. But that’s normal. You get better at a thing the more you do it. At this stage of my life I’m doing some of the best artwork I’ve ever done. I really need to stop being afraid that I’m no damn good.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trying To Maintain A Head Of Steam…


Safe Spaces For Teenage Gay Nerds

A Coming Out Story, Episode 30 is live…

There’s a panel that should be in there at the beginning, after “The breathless glances” and before “The constant denial” that would have been captioned “The Flirting”, (more likely “The gay teen nerd in denial flirting…but that wouldn’t fit…) but I cut that one out because it didn’t fit the layout…and I can get to that part of the story soon enough.

So I can move along more quickly here (Hahahahaha…yes…I know…) I’m breaking the episodes up into smaller chunks. So expect to see more two or three strip episodes instead of the huge 10 strip plus ones I’ve put up here previously.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Safe Spaces For Teenage Gay Nerds

December 4th, 2020

A Coming Out Story, Episode 30…Real Soon Now…

Final strip for ACOS 30 almost finished. I hope to put the new episode up tonight and make it public tomorrow morning. I’ve discovered I need to let my cartoons simmer overnight before going live.

Notice I’m using GIMP now instead of Photoshop. After Adobe bricked the Windows copy I spent 850 dollars for I vowed to get myself off Adobe products. They claimed I’d somehow bought a “bulk” license that had expired even before I registered it. They’d let me use it for two years after the alleged expiration date. Then one supposes, since their new rental software business model wasn’t such a big hit, the tweaked their license algorithm and remote turned off my copy when it failed the new check.

I called their support number to ask what was going on and that I’d spent serious money for that copy, and their service droid told me to be more concerned about all the money Adobe was loosing to Piracy. But I’d bought a legitimate license. They even let me register this so called expired license that cost me 850 bucks and use it for two years.

The wonderful thing about commercial software is there are so many different directions they can point their fingers to blame for customer abuse. Adobe of course can blame the vendor I bought the license from that they claimed was already expired when they let me register and use it for two years. But of course, after two years the vendor isn’t much likely to refund my money. And more than likely they’ll claim it was a perfectly legitimate license and it’s Adobe that’s fucking with me, not them. And the fact is, buried inside nearly everyone’s licensing terms, is a clause allowing the vendor to change the terms of the license out from under you whenever they feel like it.

Think about that, those of you who think you have a permanent license for an Adobe product. 

So I’ve switched to GIMP, which has turned out to be a nearly perfect replacement for Photoshop. And it’s open source. But there is one small problem.

GIMP has a well known problem with tablet input devices, like my Wacom. It seems there is a bug in GTK2 that they’ve been dallying with fixing for 5+ years (It’s Open Source!), and the only machine that GIMP works properly on with my Wacom is the MacBook Pro you see here. So for the duration, that has become my art room computer.

Allegedly GIMP 3 fixes all that (real soon now!). There is a development release, GIMP 2.99.2, that allegedly has the tablet fix in it. But what you get, apart from a development release they tell you up front might crash on you at any moment, is a tarball that you have to compile.

I don’t have an up to date Linux system (it’s on my todo list) so I’ll just stick with the MacBook Pro for now. I’m actually really happy with GIMP. It does some things I need better than Photoshop, and its quirks are easily adapted to. I have a reference document I’ve been working on that steps me through a How To in GIMP things I did all the time in Photoshop, like ingesting line art onto a transparent layer. (It’s in Google Docs if there are any GIMP users here who want to look at it…message me) Moving and sizing objects on a layer is very odd in GIMP if you’re used to the way Photoshop does it, but once you understand it the process is very straightforward. Likewise copying line art from one image to another. But I can do everything in GIMP that I once did in Photoshop…at least regarding my cartoons…so I’m happy.

At some point I need to work on moving my photography workflow away from Lightroom. They say there are lots of good alternatives, some of which work way better at things like noise reduction and shadow detail.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 30…Real Soon Now…

November 27th, 2020

Coming Soon…

I’m finally getting ready for the next three episodes of A Coming Out Story (plus intermissions…). Here’s a peek at the next episode…

I’m going to be busy at my paying job all weekend long, but this episode, and the next two, are only three strips each so it should go quickly. The intermissions, which are the story of my reading The Truth About Homosexuality by Dr. Pompous J. Fraudquack are single strips interleaved with the rest of my storyline, leading up to the moment I come out to myself. I know…it’s crazy but hopefully easier to follow once it’s all done.

Stay tuned…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Coming Soon…

August 23rd, 2020

About A Coming Out Story

I’ve arrived at a critical point in my story…the part where I finally come out to myself. But it begins with a crucial bit of it I haven’t scripted yet, and which I am still having difficulty scripting to my satisfaction. Thus, the delay. Again.

I’ve bumped up to the part of my story where I and the object of my affections take things to the next level (so to speak) and actually begin talking to each other, as opposed to just gawking at each other. They say the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. In this case, I’m telling a story about true events, but in a cartoon form that’s hopefully humorous enough that all the gay teen angst and pain and sorrow is easier to digest. It was a hostile world I came of age into. You got a torrent of abuse hurled at you from every direction. And even when some corner of the culture was trying to be sympathetic to you, it was a rancid sort of pity you got. I hope by now anyone following my story isn’t wondering why we just didn’t start talking to each other about our feelings. As it turns out, we were both scared. His way of handling that and mine were different enough, and the cultures we were born to different enough, to make reading each other nearly impossible. So we drug it out for months and months.

But just in case anyone is still wondering, I hit on the idea of intermingling this part of the story with flash forwards of something that really did happen after the fact of my coming out to myself. As I’ve said repeatedly, the story I’m telling is one part things that really happened, one part artistic license, and one part fantasy. In this case, the thing that really happened was I was listening to a radio program where some self styled expert was talking about “the homosexual problem”. I wish I could remember the man’s name, or the title of the show, but it is too deeply buried in memory now. But I clearly recall the impact it had on me at that moment. Audiences nowadays might be repulsed at the shear ignorant bigotry of what the man was saying about homosexuals, but it was pretty standard fare for that period in America. Somewhere toward the end of his presentation, he said that the absolute worst thing a man could admit to, was being a homosexual.

That hit my stubborn nerve…ask anyone who knows me about my stubborn nerve…and I did something immediately afterward that lifted me up, and has sustained me ever since. At some point I really want to get the story to that moment because it’s actually the climax of the entire story, although there is still a lot that comes after it.

I decided to frame it as a series of passages from a book that I’m reading, authored by a self styled expert on “the homosexual problem”. I stole the author’s name from a panel in a cartoon the great underground cartoonist Howard Cruse did, titled Sometimes I Get So Mad… (You can find a copy of it in his collection Dancing Nekkid With The Angels). I emailed him a link to the finished first episode in the story arc, not knowing how ill he had become, and to my everlasting gratitude he once again complimented me on the story, and encouraged me to keep at it because of how important it is for us to tell our stories, because that is how we defeat hate. A few weeks later he was gone. I was, and still am, stunned. I cannot begin to tell you how big an influence he was on me. In a world where even underground cartoonists, sexually liberated though they regarded themselves, were often ignorant, bigoted and hostile toward gay readers, most of whom were either teens or young adults, Howard’s cartoons were lifesavers for many of us. 

I was hoping to push through a bunch of episodes using the device of flashing forward to my reading this book, with passages in it taken from actual publications by both homophobic and mainstream media. Alas, I’m bumping up against the reality of what happened, which is not a simple straightforward timeline of moving from gawking at each other to talking to the moment he put an arm around my shoulders and I went into the stratosphere. That was several months in the making and it was a very convoluted process that played out in our school hallways, the cafeteria, the gym, the Spring Fair (I’ve already flashed forward to that), and the library. It was fearful baby steps forward, then back again, then forward again, and then to some strange only in the early 1970s landscape where we could talk about everything but the lavender elephant in the room. Somehow I have to make a simple cartoon story out of it and I’m still not sure how to. But I’m working on it now.

Because this is such a critical part of the story I need to have a clear picture in my head of how I’m going to tell it, and that clear picture isn’t coming easily. I need to buckle down to it…just push everything else off the table until I get this right. When you see the next episode appear, hopefully in the next few weeks, you’ll know I’ve got it.

Then I need to just keep drawing it…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on About A Coming Out Story

February 16th, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

Continuing with the Intermission, wherein I’ve sought answers about my sexual orientation in the bookstore, and purchased Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack’s The TRUTH About Homosexuality…and I begin to read…

Intermission – What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Part 2)

I’m going to interleave this little story arc with the one I’m currently presenting, so if it gets a tad confusing blame my poorly developed storytelling skills. But this is where it’s all been building to. The subtitle of the cartoon is after all, The first person you come out to, is yourself. For some gay kids that isn’t easy, and it especially was not back in 1971.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

February 5th, 2020

A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

In which our hero discovers zipper anxiety…

A Coming Out Story…Episode 29 “Are You Serious?”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

February 3rd, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…

A Coming Out Story, episode 29, is…er…coming out slowly. So I’ve been putting up the strips as I’ve finished them, if you want to take a pre-release peak. This is why I’ve been a bit lax in posted to the blog here. I’ve been spending all my free time in the art room.

I have the last two panels up now, but they’re unfinished as yet. As I add details and such I’ll update them. When it’s all finished I’ll post a link, but anyone who’s been following this story already knows where to go.

I don’t know if I’ll continue doing this posting the unfinished strips as I go along. This particular episode is where the story takes an important turn, and soon the kid I once was will have to deal with a wee bit of self discovery…or more specifically the end of denial. After the heart attack last October I’m feeling some pressure to get this thing finished while I still have time to finish it. And there is still a lot of it left to go. This one has been so time consuming. I’m gonna try to make the episodes a bit smaller in size from now on. This one I could have easily split into two separate ones.

The last two strips in episode 29 involve…boots. 60s, early 70s boots guys wore, with a zipper down the side for getting in and out of them. The ones in question were black leather, and before I started work on this episode I had an idea of how to do them in the monochrome/cross hatching technique I’ve been using throughout the series, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Getting a three dimensional lighting effect off a material that’s dark and unreflective to begin with isn’t something I was sure I could do.

This is where my utter lack of formal training really bites me. But I’ve been working with this stuff for decades now, and I had a hunch about how to go about representing it. Plus, and this was a big help, I had a photograph of the incident in question to work from for reference. So I could see what the end result was that I had to get to, I just wasn’t sure I knew how to get there. But I just now gave it a shot and I’m really happy with the outcome. Looks better than I’d hoped. This is how untrained hunt and peck artists get their self respect points.

I’m done with Photoshop and anything basically to do with Adobe. I paid full price for a Windows copy of Photoshop so I could run it on my Windows laptop if my art room Mac crapped out on me in the middle of something I was working on. Some months ago Adobe bricked my copy on the basis that I’d bought a bulk license copy from the reseller and that license had expired…several months before I bought the copy. This despite the fact that Adobe went ahead and activated my copy anyway, and let me keep on using it for two more years. So one morning I start Photoshop and instead if getting my desktop I got a HUGE popup telling me my copy was invalid and demanding I fix the problem. And of course the fix would have been to start renting the product instead of buying a new perpetual license since they don’t sell those anymore. Now it’s all rental software. And I am not the only one by far who isn’t taking that bait. But that’s obviously why they bricked my copy.  It wasn’t a problem when I activated it, and I’ve spent thousands over the years on Adobe software and before now considered myself a loyal customer. But their software rental policy isn’t working out very well for them, judging by the static they’re constantly getting on the social media forums, so they started looking for excuses to turn off anyone’s copies they could, to try and force those of us who were standing pat on CS6, the last perpetual license they sold, to become renters. 

When I called support and complained that I’d paid full price for that copy the corporate droid at the other end told me to feel sorry for all the money Adobe has lost to piracy. At some point I need to make a Sorry For Your Loss sympathy card to send to Adobe for all the money they’ve lost to artists who’ve gone elsewhere due to their software rental scheme. I’ll make it with GIMP.

The current version of GIMP is working out very nicely for my online artwork. In some ways it’s even better than Photoshop. At some point I need to find alternatives to Lightroom. mark my words, sooner or later they will turn off everyone’s perpetual licensed copies because they can. Somewhere buried in all those license agreements you have to agree to, is a clause allowing Adobe to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement whenever they want. When you buy software that can be turned off remotely whenever the maker wants you have bought nothing.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…

March 26th, 2018

Back To Work On A Coming Out Story…

Back home from Florida, with renewed energy and determination to complete A Coming Out Story, and to tell it like it was. Funny how that always happens lately. 

I’m not naming any actual names except my own (well…and one teacher who was amazing), and I’ve made it clear repeatedly that the story is one third things that actually happened to me, one third artistic license (time compression, reordering / relocating certain events) and one third pure fantasy (such as my libido didn’t actually materialize as a naked but for fig leaf me). Hopefully this allows my classmates some plausible deniability. Teenagers do things that adults wouldn’t necessarily want on their resumes.

Tom Clancy once said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. This story is me trying to make sense of what happened to me back in high school when, as the subtitle says, the first person you come out to is yourself. I’ve a new story arc to start soon, A Conversation With God, that’s mostly me trying desperately to figure out why I’m getting myself all tied up in knots over a certain someone, especially when he smiles at me. After that story arc things start getting…interesting.

It was a different world. The best of times, the worst of times, as the saying goes…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back To Work On A Coming Out Story…

December 9th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23: Consulting The Oracle

…in which our hero consults with a world renown and highly respected seer to learn what the F*** is going on with him!

Episode 23 of A Coming Out Story…Here.

A Coming Out Story – Main Page…Here.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 23: Consulting The Oracle

December 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23 On The Way!

ETA Sunday, December 10…

One of the cool things about doing A Coming Out Story is I get to bring back to life for a bit my beloved Rockville as it used to be when I was a kid. This episode takes place in the Congressional Plaza that once was. I used to burn off tons of nervous energy walking from the apartments at Village Square West to Congressional and then to the Super Giant and Korvettes and back down Randolph Road to home. But even before then, when mom and I lived in Courthouse Square, the Plaza was a center of gravity. And to this day I have a fondness for that 1950s-60s stack stone treatment on the facades of the storefronts. It will always take me back whenever I see it.

And oh God…you don’t want to see what they did to it now. But that’s okay. I can bring it back to life as it was in my artwork…

In this episode I consult with a world renown and highly respected oracle for some insight as to what the hell is going on with me. Here’s some work-in-progress. I’ve got panel one of the tale pretty much done. The inks and dialogue in panels 2 and 3 are ready for lighting and texturing treatments. I do all my initial artwork in traditional media, but then I scan it in and finish it in Photoshop…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 23 On The Way!

February 5th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

…in which our hero discovers that knowledge isn’t necessarily power.

acos_22-sm

A Coming Out Story, Episode 22…Here.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

February 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

In which our hero learns that  fast food can be bad for the heart…

acos21-sm

A Coming Out Story…Episode 21…is Here.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.