Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuff the Presses

"Unstoppable Tuff-Girl Sketchbook No. 2, Galley"

Around 10 p.m. EDT Sunday evening, I finished numbering the last of 100 - 8.50 in. x 11.00 in, 48 page sketchbooks.


At least seven days behind schedule, but still, "Yea!"

Printing run, books: 125 (25 artist proofs, 100 regular run)
Sheets: 1,625 (125 for covers, 125 gate folds, 125 activities, 1,250 interiors)
Folds: 1,875
Cuts: 500
Staples: 625
Printing time, estimated: 47 hr, 30 min
Book design time, estimated: 30 hr.
Production time, esitmated for trimming & binding: 25 hr
Waste, estimated: 180 sheets, 300 staples
Dummies (prototypes for binding and layout planning): 3
Activity page prototypes constructed: 2
Int jet cartridges, estimated: 10

Oh, yeah. It sure felt like more - across the board.

You can catch me at the up-coming Long Beach Comic Con (Oct 2 -4, 2009) at the Silver Comics booth (booth #252) with my stacks of sketchbooks, No. 1 SRP only $5 and No. 2 $10, but I'm willing to deal and trade.

I've got 8 artist proofs remaining; of the 25, I've sent 12 to Merrill Hagan who scripted the 12-page adventure in the beginning of the book, 1 I've archived, and 4 I've already handed out. Maybe I'll see which of my Facebook friends wants one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TAGS December 16 & 17, 1993

12/16: Shoppertunities.

12/17: Happi-ness is...

December 16, 1993: In my failings as a writer on TAGS, it seems that up until now (and not until about the 90th strip in the series, these two being #59 & 60) I had never explicitly said what these characters do. In the beginning, it's obvious that work involves some sort of restaurant. The heretofore unmentioned set-up is this: the restaurant is located in a Disneyland-type theme park for the logical reason that I used to work in a few restaurants in Disneyland (1987-95). The name of the park is Happiland, and it is "The Dizziest Spot on Earth."

In keeping with that real-life model, there of course is a Happi World, a Yokahama Happiland, Happiland Europe and a retail store, Happi Shoppe. Now, having never mentioned Happiland in the strip, there could not and can not now be any significance to the TAGS reader of what the Happi Shoppe is. But it IS Christmas, and every one is excited, so I ask you to go with it.

(L-R: Monster, Evan (Corgi), Barron (Teddy bear), Wensdae (weasel), Polly (penguin), Nick (skunk), Rudy (pig), Heidi (gopher))

December 17, 1993: Now, if "Happi" is a stand in for "Disney," then what is the stand-in for Mickey Mouse? The answer: Benjamin Raccoon. Yeah, I figured that would fall flat on the ground. There's not even alliteration like "Rascal Raccoon."

Oh well, that actually plays no importance to this strip, because that's not a Benjy plush that Heidi is holding. That's a fox who's name I can't even remember right now. And to further compound the trivia, the greeter is an un-named lizard; and while I like her design, you will never, ever see her again.

- - - - - - - - - -
I'd like to keep track of how many appearances these character have made. I think this is Evan's first. However, the "Search Blog" function dosen't seem to be working to-night, which had been a big help in the past. If it starts working again or I can set aside the time to actually review the actual drawings, then maybe in the future I'll have some numbers for you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Buckle Up, Buttercup

"Tuff-Girl Buckle Replica, activity sheet"
Digital art.
20.32 x 25.40 cm (8.00 in. x 10.00 in.)

Wanting to include some sort of bonus activity sheet as part of the 48 pages of the sketchbook, I decided upon this paper replica of Tuff-Girl's belt buckle, which you may download here (hopefully) after clicking the image to view the full 2400 x 3000 pixel image. 110 lbs card stock should work nicely. Photo stock probably not so much with the gluing involved.

As my years of a mechanical engineering student stirred from dormancy, the whole design project from cut-out to page was quite its own beyond the sketchbook.

First, as I've said previously, the creation of vector art is in plain words, "a pain."

Second, I elected to refine the design of the buckle face for a third time.

The orthographic (blueprint) plans were completed rather quickly, the top, bottom and side views being simple trapezoids all with the sides angled the same.

However, the paper plans had the added work of calculating and designing the partial cone shapes at the corners.

After successfully assembling a prototype (all this with only a galley of preliminary layouts for the book), I thought to take it a step further by incorporating flaps on the back creating a cover you could wear to cover your belt buckle.

No, I couldn't let it be.

All the pieces including an interior stiffening brace laid out with directions on a 8.50 in. x 11.00 in. letter sheet meant the completed buckle had to be about 20% smaller than the one above. Of course, you can print it out at whatever scale that pleases you, like say 4-ft tall with head, arm and leg holes.

It did probably require 40-plus additional man-hours on top of, I guess, the 40-plus I had spent to get to the prototype stage, and to all the uncounted hours working (and still am working) on the sketchbook.

I like to complain.

It will be worth it, though.

... until I decide to design a "deluxe version!"

If you need to know, the buckle is supposed to be red and black, but I opted for a dark gray because the ink-jet sheets were coming out a bit damp with full, mixed black. As it is, the print out should appear to have the blackness of newspapers or construction paper.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book a Trip to Las Vegas

"Unstoppable Tuff-Girl, Sketchbook No. 2, Cover"
illustration: Carmine red Col-Erase pencil and black India ink on Bristol board.
13.97 x 21.59 cm (5.50 x 8.50 in.)

Closer than I was before, yet much more to go. This bound collection covers about three and a half years of Tuff-Girl related sketches, rough drawings and doodles. If all goes as planned, it will be 48 pages including 36 black and white pages, a gate-fold poster, a single fold activity page, and the four pages of the cover.

The technical aspects have the pages printed in signature of four consecutive pages each on once-folded letter-size (8.50 x 11.00 in.) sheets. Rather than being saddle stapled like the average comic book magazine, the interior pages are stacked together and stapled front to back near the spine. Then the cover is glued at the spine around the pages in square-bound fashion.

The revised goal is to print and bind 125 copies by September 14. Entirely a hand-made undertaking, I think 125 is quite sufficient. At least the labor is free.

Cover price: a competitive $10.

I can offer no more commentary about the process of book design and binding.

About the actual artwork contained, with most of it I'm at peace, which is to say I don't have that itch to re-draw them. They are what they are. The cover and the gate-fold, however, both gave me the darnedest trouble, because, I suppose, they're the main selling features.

Check here again in 13 days. We'll see how it goes, won't we?

Oh, and if you like the Las Vegas sign logo, this is how I did that:
I used the power of computer image manipulation. First the sign was roughly incorporated in the layout in light pencil. From photo reference of the actual "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, the "Tuff-Girl" version was designed flat, front on. Over a low-resolution scan of the rough pencil art, the logo was manipulated to achieve the desired perspective effect. With that printed out, it was transferred in pencil into the tight pencil drawing, and the whole finished with black India ink. -- Easy.