See Sick

ALRSSK01Yep.¬†Done and DONE!¬†Feels good to get it all out of my system here. Say all the things I needed to say. See, when I started Artistic License Revoked back up a few months ago I had a very specific goal in mind. To do 24 brand new comics (in the standard newspaper strip size) and I have done just that. I wrote 24 new comics, and my hope was to send them to a newspaper syndicate when I was finished drawing them, but very soon into the process I realized I was in trouble. For one, nobody reads the paper anymore. Certainly not my target audience anyway. They get their news online, just like everybody else, so it almost seemed like a hopeless task. Not to mention the fact that there’s no room for my silly comic among the big dawgs like Garfield and Peanuts. I know my weaknesses. One, I over-write. WAY too much dialogue. That’s a big no-no. Two, my hand lettering looks amateur. It really needs to be done digitally. And three, my jokes are usually a bit too inside, too personal. Not the best route to go if you want to achieve wide-spread commercial success. And I guess this is a good opportunity to talk about why I use myself in my comics in the first place. People always ask me, why do you draw yourself in your comics, are you a narcissist or something? Uh, yeah. Of course I am. I’m an artist, duh. But the truth is there are a bunch of reasons why I do it. Am I somehow trying to immortalize myself through my art? Do I do it as a form of self-help therapy, a way of expressing myself in ways that I simply cannot in real life? Or am I just trying to share a story with the world as seen through my eyes? Maybe, probably, perhaps… Really, I just needed somebody to be the ASS of the joke, and what better person to fill that role than myself?! Yes, my comics are flawed. Because I am flawed. But people don’t connect with things that are perfect on paper. People connect with other people. And that’s all I’ve hoped to do. To please myself, and to please others. To make people laugh. But I wouldn’t say this journey has been a total wash-out for me. Where it has pointed out my weaknesses, it has also strengthened my skills in other areas. For instance, if you were to go back and look at any of my comics before these last 24, you’ll see that none of them were ever inked. Only pencils. So I feel I’ve come a long way in my inking ability. Also, the coloring. I mean, c’mon. Before I was using a cheap box of color pencils I got from the grocery store. What the hell was I doing? Not saying you have to have expensive tools to make great art, but I feel like switching to watercolors has upped my game a bit, at least a little. I realize I still have a long way to go, but it’s all part of the process. I know I’ll get there someday. And I really want to thank everyone who has travelled with me this far. Everyone who liked my comics, shared them on facebook, and started following me on WordPress… I really hope you will continue to follow me on this journey. I have a LOT more planned for the future! Who knows what lies ahead for these 2 struggling writers?? But for now, it’s time for the sun to set once again on my comic Artistic License Revoked. It’s always been there for me when I needed it. When I needed an escape. And I know one day I will need it again. But for now, that’s all folks! :) Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and stay tuned for more right here at Mind Circus Comics!alrFin

Starving Artist

ALRCOI01Not gonna lie, I usually comb the depths of my car seats for loose change about every 2 weeks. I usually find just enough coin for a mexican pizza at Taco Bell, or enough to wash a load of clothes at the laundrymat. The struggle is real, kids.

Happy Father’s Day!

ALR03001I know its a few days early for a Father’s Day post, but my art group and I will be busy all weekend at the Derby City Comic Con (if you are in the Louisville area, swing by the KY International Convention Center Saturday & Sunday, visit the Louisville Cartoonist Society table and check out our new fantasy themed anthology book Tall Tales & Little Lies!) so I probably won’t be able to post any new comics for a few days. But I do have a quick story to tell… Many years ago something happened to me in the restroom of the Mall that I’ll never forget. I realize that’s about the worst way imaginable to start off a story but hang in there. So there I am at the urinal taking care of business, when I hear a guy outside the bathroom door tell his daughter that he needed to use the bathroom, and for her to sing her ABCs until he got back. So this guy walks in and approaches the spot next to me, and we both stand there quietly, while his child is outside singing her ABCs. But after she got to Z, the child became silent. The guy immediately shouted to her “Sing it again, sweetie!” By that time I was finished, washed my hands and walked out the door. As I walked past the child I smiled, but I remembered thinking the whole situation was a bit odd. Until it dawned on me what was going on there. The girl was too old to be going into the men’s restroom with her father, but not too old to wander off while he went to the bathroom, or worse, be kidnapped. He didn’t need his kid to practice her ABCs, he just needed to know she was still out there. And that was my first real understanding of what it must be like to be a parent, believe it or not. Years later I started dating a girl with a one year old daughter, and I thought of that time at the Mall often over the next 13 years. There was one time (while her mother was working) that I took her to McDonald’s for lunch, and a man in line in front of us became irate for whatever reason. He started screaming and cussing, even threw his french fries at the cashier behind the counter. We both looked at each other like, YIKES! I’ll never forget the look on her face as she moved behind me to put me in between her and him. I remember thinking, wow. This child is counting on me to protect her. I can’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag, but in that moment, I think that was as close as I’ve ever felt to being a father. Later that year she gave me a Happy Father’s Day card that read: Not all superheroes wear capes. I still have that card to this day, and I’m eternally grateful to her for enriching my life. I know I probably failed her as a strong father figure, but I hope she at least will always remember me as a positive male influence in her life. Anyway I just wanted to give a shout out to all the great fathers I know, my friends Mark, Ted, Phil, Ross, Damon, my cousins Aaron and Dylan, my brother David…

…and lastly, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my dad. He is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known. I just hope that if he ever feels like he hasn’t succeeded in the world, in his work, the way he had hoped to, or if he ever has frustrations in life or ever feels like he isn’t the man he wanted to be, I just hope he knows that he has always been a great success to me. (He’s a damn good cook too!) :)

Quantum Relations

ALRQLP01Haha that’s right. It’s 2015 and I made a Monica Lewinski joke AND referenced Quantum Leap!! Maybe I’m living in the past… But imagine if Sam Beckett really DID prevent the whole Monica Lewinski/Bill Clinton affair! Clinton wouldn’t have been impeached… who knows how it might have changed history! Would America be any different today? Would it have an effect on Hillary’s 2016 presidential run? Who knows?! I do think there is a slight similarity between former president Clinton and Quantum Leap’s Al Calavici, Sam’s holographic bestie. They both have the gift of gab, they both love the ladies, and they both love cigars! heh. But seriously, if I could reboot one TV show it really would be Quantum Leap. I LOVED that show. I do love the continuing saga and epic storytelling of shows like The Walking Dead, but I also really miss shows like Quantum Leap and The X-Files, that told a stand alone story that wrapped up at the end of the hour, and started a brand new adventure the next week! I think Quantum Leap had a concept that, in the hands of good writers, could last 10 seasons! Longer even! I know Quantum Leap gets mocked for being so utterly well-meaning and earnest that it was too good for it’s own sake, but so what?! Does every show on tv HAVE to be dark and gritty and violent??? I miss Quantum Leap’s good-natured vibe and I wish more shows today were brave enough to “make the world a better place” :)

Objets d’Amour

ALROJA01i am bruce and i am a booboo child and honey booboo is my spirit animal. just kiddin there. This one is for my buddy Mark. It was a fun comic to work on because Mark (the guy on the left) is a regular character in my comic who is based on my best friend Mark in real life. And Fred (the guy on the right) is a character that he created for his own comic “Fred Inc.” (which, by the way, is a hilarious comic about the insane world of retail) And Tiffany is Mark’s wife in the real world, but also is a character in Mark’s comic that is kinda based on her… anyway the whole mixing of our fictional created worlds with our real lives just really amused me. Not that I expect anyone else to care or understand. Just explaining. Anyway thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Artistic License Revoked comin’ at ya soon!

The Dark Side…

ALRTDS01There is no such thing as talent. In my heart I truly believe that. Sometimes people see my work and say things like “You are so talented! I wish I could draw like you, I can’t even draw a stick figure! You have a natural gift.” And of course, I am always very grateful for those compliments. But deep down I feel empty because they don’t see the dark side of my travel. They don’t see the hours and hours of practice I put in, sitting at my drawing table, constantly trying to improve my craft. They don’t see the late nights of drawing until my eyes burn, after a long day of working my day job. They don’t see the nights I gave up with my friends to stay at home and work on a comic, or a piece of art. They don’t see my sore ribs, or the calluses on my fingers. They just think I was born with some kind of natural talent. But there is no such thing. The Beatles were a successful band because they put in the WORK. 7 hours a night, over years of dedicated practice. Stephen King is a good writer because he puts in the work mastering his craft. Understand I’m not comparing myself to these artists, I’m just trying to make a point. Like if you were to spend months and months of hard core dieting and pumping iron at the gym to get fit, it wouldn’t be that you were simply born fit, but that you WORKED for it. I’ll never get cut or have big muscles because I just don’t want it bad enough. And that’s why I’ve been 150 lbs since high school. (You don’t get to look like Jason Statham by drawing cartoons.) But I believe if you really want something bad enough, you CAN get good at it. You really CAN draw like me (much better, even!) if it was something you really wanted to do. And if you want to join a gym and get fit, you can do that too. All it takes is a little luck, and a LOT of work. But if it’s something you love to do, you won’t mind putting in the time.

*I would like to make a tiny amendment to this post because I’ve gotten a little bit of static back from friends and coworkers about my opinion on talent. Look, I’m not saying if a man only grows to be 3ft 11 that all they need to do is practice and they can play basketball just like Shaq. We are all born with certain advantages and disadvantages. But even Shaq had to work hard to get good. I’m just saying if they practiced hard enough, even with disadvantages, they could get pretty damn good at basketball if they really wanted it. I’ll leave you with this thought: let’s say you had a child who wanted to be an artist, but all of their drawings were completely terrible. Would you say to your child: You suck, you obviously don’t have a natural talent for art, you should quit and try something else? Or would you encourage them to practice and keep at it and let them know that they can improve with hard work and dedication ;)

Night Rave

ALRNightRaveI love a lot of different music, from Sting & The Police to Rhianna to Civil Twilight, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Villebillies, Nappy Roots, to any good pop song on the radio… But one of my favorite genres of music is EDM. Sometimes its hard to find people who love EDM as much as I do here in “boot scoot and boogie” country music lovin’ chicken fried Kentucky, but there are a few of us here! Especially in Louisville (which I’ve always thought of as a progressive city, even in our local music scene). But globally, one of my favorite DJs is BT. Although at this point in his career I think he has certainly transcended simply being a DJ, I would consider him an incredible musician period. He is a composer, multi-instramentalist, singer, songwriter, technologist, he can do it all! He was even nominated for a Grammy Award for best electronic/dance album in 2010. Movement In Still Life, Emotional Technology, These Hopeful Machines, and A Song Across Wires are a few of my favorite records of his. I think the guy is one of the most talented and brilliant musicians in the industry, check out his work sometime (if you haven’t already) and stay tuned for more comics right here at Mind Circus!

The Walking Dope

ALRWDDAnyone else miss The Walking Dead??? Sunday nights just aren’t the same this time of year. Dark days, my friends. Dark days. I am, however, very much looking forward to the premiere of “Fear Of The Walking Dead” in August! Cliff Curtis was awesome in Push, Kim Dickens was awesome in Gone Girl. I think Kirkman is a great writer, and obviously I love The Walking Dead.. so I have nothing but high hopes for the spin-off :) As far as my comic, I kept it primarily in black & white as kind of a homage to the Walking Dead comic books, which are in B&W. Thanks for reading!

The Problem Is…

ALRCJS01Actually, the problem is I wrote this joke like 2 years ago, but I could never come up with a really good “laugh out loud” punchline for it. Obviously it’s never good (creatively) to force something to work, but the stubborn writer in me kept telling me I could make it work. I can MAKE this one funny. Finally I decided that no matter how hard I tried, this just wasn’t going to be one that makes you laugh out loud. But I still thought it could be entertaining? and maybe make a statement as well? Single guys say to me all the time, “Oh, girls don’t want a nice guy, nice guys finish LAST! Girls are attracted to the bad boy type, they want a guy who is a jerk.” Lol. No they don’t. I hear that shit all the time. But it’s such a defeated, frustrated-single-guy thing to say. It’s the same as when frustrated single girls say “all men are pigs.” No we’re not. (Dogs, maybe, but we’re not all pigs!) To quote my man Captain Jack Sparrow, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” Sure, girls are attracted to bad boy traits like confidence and strength. Guys who are assertive, and go after what they want. But the problem with being a REAL bad boy is you live in your own world. It’s your world, and everyone else is just living in it. Nobody wants that shit. But it doesn’t hurt to THINK like a bad boy every now and then… For example, I’ve always felt that “just be yourself” is literally the worst advice you can give anyone ever. In ANY situation. No one should have to change their values and what’s in their heart just to impress others. Feeling the need to change who you are just to be accepted generally strengthens the notion in the eyes of others that you aren’t good enough. But hey, what’s wrong with a little “fake it ’til you make it” from time to time? So you aren’t the most confident person in the room. Who cares. Bad boys don’t worry about what other people think of them. When they want someone else’s opinion they’ll give it to them! Sometimes you just have to think like a bad boy and say #*@% it! No one can give me the air that’s mine to breathe! I’m gonna give (whatever situation you are in) my best shot! And that’s what I did with this particular comic. I sat on it for 2 years telling myself it was no good, but in the end just said screw it. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to! So I gave it my best shot. And who knows, somebody out there might think it’s funny :)