Cartoon and Illustration

DoorMan goes live this week (choose your portal)

DoorMan is back (as previously indicated) at www.doormanonline.net

But Mike Leonard has been busy, busy, busy, mirroring the content of DM at some of the most popular web-comic sites.

Such as Comic Fury

 http://doorman.thecomicseries.com

Also Smack Jeeves

 http://doorman.smackjeeves.com/

And Drunk Duck (a.k.a. “The Duck”)

http://www.drunkduck.com/DoorMan/

So it seems that you can choose many portals to see the content of DoorMan in digital form.  We welcome you to do so, and hopefully tell your friends.

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Cartoon and Illustration

D-Day for Doodle (Part II)

So while I was doing all that I was doing in Charlotte–shooting Kickstarter vids for Game of Horror, meeting with editors from Valiant, PaperCutz, Boom Studios, etc.  Mike Leonard was at home putting up the new DoorMan online comic.

www.doormanonline.net

So now I’ve got two projects going, right?

Wrong.  I’ve got a comic book called Spectra/Polaris to draw now that I’m home.  I haven’t actually got the script for that yet–but I do have the money for it in my possession, and I have a character sketch that has to be done in conjunction with it before I begin the story pencils.

So that’s three?

Well, maybe.  But I’ve got a conference call with a screen-writer and his producer coming up on Wednesday.  We’ve discussed my rates and the studio seems fine with them.  I’ve signed the NDA (which is why I’m not naming any names here), and so this one seems like it might go the distance.

Four?

Actually I’m in discussion with another client about a Graphic Novel based on his script.  Should know more in a couple of weeks.

Five.

And then there’s the fact that Mike Leonard and I are in the process of putting together a licensing imprint company that features “geek ware” items that we think might be a big hit.

Six.

If you don’t count all the work I’ve been doing as chairman of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.  We’ve got a “Cartoon Art Appreciation Day” planned for July 13 at the Asheville Barnes & Nobel.  I was planning to do a cook out with the Asheville gang on July 2.  I’ve been helping out the Glynn Arts Association (Glynn County, GA) with items for their upcoming Jack Davis retrospective…

http://glynnart.org/events/jack-davis-from-the-beginning

Plus there’s an event in September with the Patriot Rovers Program in Greensboro…

http://patriotrovers.org/get-involved/events

And our SECNCS annual meeting in Knoxville, October 25-27 to plan.

That’s 10.

Did I mention I’m having a gallery show opening in October as well?

So I’m thinking that’s about 11.  In the meantime I have to play a couple of gigs with Gypsy Bandwagon, get ready to go to San Diego Comic Con and keep things going around home.

It feels kind of like I’m busy.  Can’t say for sure though.  Does this sound busy to anyone else?

So, hopefully now you understood what I was saying in the last post about conventions seeming in the past to revolve around a single event.  Whereas this year’s Heroes Convention seems to have contained many, many, events that have all blurred together into one huge series of events that are–well, kind of confusing me at the moment.  My head is so full of all that I’ve yet to do that I’m finding it difficult to keep track.

So, I’m no Joint Chiefs of Staff, Patton, McArthur or anyone like that–but it feels like everything has been leading up to this moment.  I hope the outcome is what I am anticipating.

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Cartoon and Illustration

Dreamgirl

No, she’s not my dreamgirl–not in that sense.  But then again, I did help create her back about 14 years ago, Michael Leonard and I were working up some other Vertigo-esque type comics properties and we came up with this one (I’m not too proud to admit that DoorMan was compared to Sandman–in fact I’m flattered).

I’ve shown her around a bit in the years since, because I’m very pleased with how this artwork came out.  But in the past couple of weeks Mike and I have been revisiting the property, and it looks like we’ll be doing something with it.  On the advice of some marketing guru friends (okay, Matt Mulder) I thought I’d post Dreamgirl here and show off the new artwork I’ve done for her tank top “insignia”.

Keep in mind that the Dreamgirl property is something I co-own with Michael A. Leonard.  But hopefully this will catch a few eyes and whet some appetites for what the two of us will be coming out with in the near future.

We will probably be moving in a slightly different direction with this character than trying to take on another comic book / graphic novel at the moment.  We’re looking more at illustrated teen fiction–but she’s a prime candidate for that out of all the stuff we’ve created.

And Mike, sorry if I’m scooping you here.  We do need to be generating some buzz, right?

Image

 

Artwork (and all distinctive designs included herein) copyright © James E. Lyle.  All rights reserved.  Dreamgirl property is co-owned by Michael A. Leonard and James E. Lyle.Image

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Cartoon and Illustration

Now, the details (well, some of the details) and a long pep talk to myself

So for weeks now it seems I have been hinting at what is occupying my time lately, but didn’t want to get into details to much–at least not until the ink was dry on the contracts.

Of course there’s very little wet ink involved in my contracts anymore.  Most of them are signed digitally.  This sounds very advanced and I think it may even impress some people that I know how to do a “digital signature”.  But it was actually a necessity with some of the clients I work for who seem to need the finished work BEFORE the contract is finalized.  So I somehow figured out how to do this in Adobe Acrobat, and have only had to fix it once when somehow my computer “ate” the information (I think it was during an upgrade of Acrobat).

But that’s got nothing to do with the details.  The details are, that I’ve been signed to design elements for a new board game called “Kings of Israel”

http://www.kingsofisraelgame.com/

Specifically I’ve been called on to make the game-board itself, building on the beta version to hopefully make the game play more compelling by giving it those little tweaks that will delight the eye in such a way that each time you play the game you’ll find something new to look at.

I’m also supposed to be working on a common element for some of the game cards–but for now we’re concentrating on the board itself–which actually contains many elements that will have to be combined to make the whole thing work.  It’s been fun so far (one whole day!) and the client, Lance Hill is a nice guy–who actually has a budget for this project.  (Some of you other clients out there could learn a thing or two from this fellow).

The other project’s contract is as good as signed, so I’ll talk a bit about it.  It’s a comic book called Spectra/Polaris, written by a fellow I’ve known for around ten years now, Brett Frankel.  He owns a comic shop called “House of Pop Culture” in the DC suburbs, and I first met him at Wizard World Chicago.

The show hadn’t even opened officially when Brett stepped across the aisle, smiled, shook my hand and then proceeded to buy a bunch of art from me.  What’s not to like?

Brett then commissioned me to draw a sketch of a character he’d created.  Then a few months later hired me to draw a whole issue of Spectra/Polaris for him.  We’ve had occasional other S/P related projects since that time (I did a logo, turn-arounds for two of the main characters)–but never got any further along with the story.

Now Brett and I are working toward making it a regular gig.  Or as regular as anything gets in this business.  I’m supposed to begin penciling a new issue sometime mid-February, with plans to continue after that issue is done.

Of course, there’s still the relaunch of DoorMan as a webcomic coming up sometime in the spring.  The good news is that is all “in the can” already, having been completed back in the 90s when Mike Leonard and I worked for Cult Press and Caliber Comics.  I’ve got all the old pages scanned, and aside from a lettering tweak and small correction here and there they’re ready to go.  Mike will be handling most of the logistics on that.

Game of Horror continues as well.  Author, Shane Berryhill and I (hopefully helped along  by costume designer, Kaysha Siemens) will be putting our shoulders to the wheel and trying to get group funding to complete the remaining 66 pages of story art.  So some time will have to be devoted to that soon.

To complicate matters more, I just got a note this morning from EGBA Originals out in LA.  I’ve been doing work for their line of custom invitations for several years now.  The owner of EGBA, Mo Taxon, has had a number of health issues recently, but seems to be getting back on his feet and has yet another project in the offing.  I can’t discuss those details as it’s still in negotiation phase, but it does give a better idea of the sort of schedule I may be facing over the coming months.

The thing is, for years I’ve operated on the idea that one good project at a time was all I should attempt to handle.  While many of my friends have been juggling multiple contracts simultaneously, and making a success of it by many standards.  I consoled myself by thinking things like, “well they’re more talented at juggling than I am,” and, “they’re doing single illustrations, while I’m engaged in telling long complicated stories.”

But the reality of this business (perhaps of any business) is that sometimes things simply fall apart.  When that has happened to me, I have often found myself scrambling around for work to fill in the schedule.  My friends and associates (as well as my circumstances over the last couple of years) have convinced me to try a bit of juggling.  That is, say “yes” to just about everything (within reason) and then let Providence work out the scheduling.

Much better than sitting around twiddling my thumbs when someone else’s schedule gets bogged down.  And such things will happen.  I think my problem has been that I have treated assignments as if they were events, rather than work-a-day challenges to be met.

Now I’m going to see about making a real living at this job.  It’s not like there’s anything standing in my way.  My family needs me to make money so we can pay the bills; I do have a unique skill set and people asking me to utilize it for their projects; and all other avenues for employment seem to have been cut off.  Might as well load up on jobs and see how things progress.

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Cartoon and Illustration

Hit the ground running and don’t stop running…

I don’t normally post two days in a row, but then again I don’t normally have days like yesterday was.

I began negotiating two client contracts simultaneously.  I talked to a third client about doing more work for them.  I answered about 200 emails.  I turned in two pages of completed artwork.

And…I got my professional registration for San Diego Comic-Con set up.  That is, I have my pass (a UPC code) in my possession.  Of all the things accomplished getting pro registration for SDCC is probably the most complex thing.  To give you some idea of how complex; it was somewhere between doing my yearly taxes and hacking into NORAD (as in the 1980s movie, War Games).

While I realize that in recent years SDCC has gotten a lot of national press and therefore has expanded exponentially as a venue itself (thereby adding more to its fame, and so on and so forth)–that snowball effect has led the organizers to tighten up on their application process to allow schlubs like me free pro passes.

But it really was a huge pain.

Most shows you call them up, or email them, ask if they have any free passes for pros.  If it’s a little show they ask what you’ve done and if you have almost any sort of credits to your name–or can even draw a decent anime looking girl (Sailor Moon, whatever) they give you a table and lots of build up.  If it’s a medium sized show they may ask for a list of your total contribution to the industry as a whole, a paragraph about your career and then still want you to pay $50-100 for a table space.  If it’s a large show they will often have you write something along the lines of an essay as to why you should be allowed to be there, then wait 6 months before responding to you, only to tell you that they not only won’t give you a free pass, but that table space all sold out months ago anyway.

But SDCC is all automated now.  I’ve gotten strange communications from them in the form of emails that appear to be written in English–as they do contain words anyone can look up in a dictionary–but the words are combined in strange ways that are not always apparent to the reader.  At least not to me.

Back in late summer my collaborator on DoorMan, Mike Leonard, sent me a copy of the book “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture” by Rob Salkowitz.  The book is supposed to be an examination of the market forces that are driving the present expansion of Pop Culture and how to build on that as a business model.  It is that–but it’s also a cautionary tale to anyone who is vaguely interested in attending San Diego Comic-Con–that is “GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GET YOUR PASS NOW OR YOU’LL NEVER GET IN!”

A bit earlier in the summer I went to Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC.  I split a room with ex-Disney animator and swell guy, Tom Bancroft.  I also spent a lot of time with my other frequent collaborator, Shane Berryhill.  Between the two of them they managed to convince me that I needed to be more agressive in my pursuit of comics work, and that going to SDCC was key.

So putting two and two together it became apparent that I needed to go look at the SDCC website and figure out how this was to be accomplished.  I spent the better part of two days trying to figure out the website in order to, get this, apply for a special code number that would allow me to (at some unspecified future date) apply for the chance to get a pass to SDCC.  This process applies to ANYONE who would like to attend–professional or fan.  

Which is to say, if you were planning to go in 2013 you’re probably already out of the running.

Now, let me just say that if you’re Stan Lee you probably don’t have to go through the process.  They’ve had their lawyers talk to Stan’s lawyers and that was all taken care of months ago.  But for anyone as far down on the food chain as I am, the process is what it is.

Anyway, a month or so ago I got an email from SDCC’s automated systems telling me that all guest registration was closed–sorry.  Which kind of made me angry as nobody had told me that the process of registration had started.  I sent a few emails around to folks I knew had been guests in the past years (Tom among them–did I mention that Tom had been coaching me during all this time about dealing with SDCC?) and found out that none of them were aware of this cut off date either.

Being the vice chairman of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society I felt that an apology for this should be forthcoming from SDCC and wrote to tell them so.  But I got no answer as such.

Then on Saturday last, I got an email telling me that on Monday the website would be accepting requests for professional registration after all.  That the website would open up at 10 am California time and that I could log on then and be given the opportunity to put in a request after all.  So I did the virtual “que-up” and somehow found all the info that I had input months before in order to apply to apply got to a screen on the SDCC site that indicated that I had no need to be verified.  That is a nice little icon came up in a pleasant blue (kind of looked like one of those post-it note pointers that lawyers use to make contracts look more fun and inviting) that said “VERIFICATION NOT DUE”.  I figured this meant that I was all signed up for the next wave of obscure and confusing emails–one of which would contain my pro pass–or not.

But I sent an email off to Tom just to make sure.  He wrote back saying that he had secured his own pass already (the aforementioned UPC code in an email) and that if I didn’t have one of those, I should log back on and get it.

I did so, searching high and low for a link to the proper page to do this “getting” thing.  I downloaded PDFs of forms I’d filled out back in October, I looked at the pro checklist PDF, only to find that none of the highlighted links therein were actually “hot” (that is, “click me and you’ll go to the right page!”)  I finally figured out that by manually entering the string of code in one of the PDF documents that it would take me to the right page.

However the “right” page was by that time shut down for “routine maintenance” and would be until 2 pm California time.  But it also said that all complimentary passes had already been spoken for.

My only hope was to log back on at, what? 5 pm east coast time (give me a break, I’d been online for 4 hours by then and am still getting over flu) and see about securing a pass at whatever cost.  Not like I have any money right now, but I figured I could at least get to the point of handing over my credit info and still turn back at that point if it seemed too costly.

As it was, when I logged back on, promptly at 5, the page took me straight to a prompt that said I was in!  I got my pro pass UPC code, printed it out and an email was sent to my inbox with confirmation.  They also sent me straight to the hotel booking page–which comfortingly assured me that just because I booked a room there was no guarantee that I had a pass to get in to the show itself.  So I then double-checked all that I’d been doing for the past 6 hours.

My point?  My point is that while I can appreciate that SDCC is having to deal with increased traffic every year–to the point of ridiculousness–that the automated systems that they have put in place are not operating as smoothly as they might.  I realize that it’s difficult to create anything I.T. at all–one reason that I don’t do that sort of thing is that it IS difficult and I lack the skill to do it.  But just because a fellow can write code does not mean that he can write English–at least not in a calm and reassuring manner.

I also realize that it is probably in the worst of taste for me, a first time applicant to attend who in spite of all the difficulties and frustrations actually was awarded a complimentary pass to the biggest comics convention in the United States–free of charge, based solely on my body of work–is now writing what might be perceived as a huge flame to the organizers.

That is not my intention.

My intention is that hopefully the organizers of SDCC will realize that the difficulties inherent in their new process of registration will only cause frustration on the part of many people and that they would be well served to secure the services not only of competent I.T. professionals (and I have to admit the website worked on schedule), but that they should also hire some competent word-smiths to craft the wording of their communications and perhaps give some thought to future design of the portion of their (admittedly voluminous) website devoted to application for entry–making it more navigable.

People aren’t applying for citizenship for Pete’s sake!  The process should be streamlined and made more comforting.  Hire someone from a cruise ship line to write your copy and answer questions–you know they’re all over San Diego.

Okay, enough.  Aside from that small set of objections, I truly do appreciate the folks at SDCC letting me in.  Thank you for being so kind.

I will attempt to behave myself in future when speaking of your fine organization.  You do indeed do a lot for the community of comics fans and creators, bringing us together like no other venue in the world and I don’t mean to be difficult.

 

It’s still up to me to figure out how to get there and pay for all the travel, hotel and food while I’m there.  It’s still up to me to put together a decent self-promotion package, as well as meet as many potential clients as possible during the time I’m there.  But the first major threshold has been met and conquered.

Looking forward to July.

 

 

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