Check out my Marc Maron Social Media Generation comic turned into a wonderful animated short by Zen Pencils reader Jess the Dragoon. I’ve often wondered what a Zen Pencils cartoon would look like – well, I don’t have to imagine anymore. Thanks Jess – loooove it!
Britta, 17, is from a small town in Minnesota, USA and now resides in Minneapolis. She’s currently studying architecture and political science at the University of Minnesota. I’ll hand it over to Britta:
I first saw your work through my favourite, aptly named website iwastesomuchtime.com. While I admired it (it was my favourite poem by Robert Frost), and thought it was cool to illustrate quotes, it really didn’t impact me all that much. I was happy where I was, coasting in the middle of life. Then, everything went to hell. My grandmother died, and although it wasn’t unexpected, it hit me much harder than I was anticipating. I found out my best friend’s mother’s cancer was back, and terminal. Teenage hormones made functioning difficult some days, and adding to that the emotional whirlwind of loss, I was spiralling downward fast. My parents and I had regular screaming matches, my ‘friends’ turned out to be backstabbing and mean, and on top of all of that, my grades started to drop as well. I had so many changes in my life, and no guidance. While I didn’t realise it then, I was depressed. I don’t think my family or friends realised, because I was so well trained to put on a happy mask and be a good little girl.
My depression peaked last winter. I wasn’t myself at all. I was lethargic, uninterested, and at times unresponsive. One day, while spending one of my many hours on iwastesomuchtime.com, I saw another one of your comics, the quote by Dr. Seuss Those who mind, don’t matter. This quote sparked a little something inside of me. It was a feeling. The illustrations weren’t relevant to my situation (I’m straight and never cared what people thought), but I like how I felt while reading your comic. So I decided to venture onto your site.
I can’t even begin to explain how much it’s helped me. I haven’t done anything drastic and amazing, like quit school and move to Africa to raise abandoned animals, but I found passion again. I love life, all of it. I have these amazing, ridiculous dreams, and I’m going to chase every single one of them.
Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena inspired me to stop listening to critics and people telling me that I couldn’t do that or I’m terrible at this. So what if I look silly? At least I have the balls to go out and try it and have the potential of being a fool compared to wasting my life on the sidelines mocking those who try. The Alan Watts comic and then the Sophie Scholl quote served to light my fire even more. I wanted to make a difference. No, I needed to make a difference. It’s hard because I’m only 17, so I am somewhat limited in my options, but I can still try. I don’t want to make a difference, I WILL make one. It’s shoved down our throats that we have to get a good paying job, settle down, have a family, have nice things in your nice house in your nice neighbourhood. B.O.R.I.N.G. I’m going to visit every continent and leave my mark there. I am going to build houses for people in need and not worry about my salary. I am going to design materials and technology to ease poverty and help with illiteracy and hunger, and I won’t patent any of it. I will refuse to follow the mould of needing money to be happy. I will be happy because I spread happiness. I will not follow the 11 Ways to Be Average. I won’t put my brain in a jar; I won’t let anyone dictate my happiness but me. I will choose sides and find causes and be crazy and obnoxious in supporting them. I will ignore safety and security in lieu of living life to the fullest.
Caitlin Moran, Carl Sagan, Taylor Mali, so many amazing people with such amazing words! After every new comic, I end up going on a binge of exploration and inspiration. After every new comic, I learn something. I learn more about the quote and what it means. I learn more about myself and what I mean, and I learn more about life and what IT means.
You can listen to a recent interview I did for NonCanonical, Australia’s most popular comic book podcast. It’s a pretty in-depth, yet casual interview that goes for about 40 minutes. The first segment is a comic book roundup by the NonCanonical boys – my interview is the second part of the show. (Warning: some mature language)
Here’s a quick look at my comic creation process. For this example, I’m using a panel from my recent Marc Maron The Social Media Generation comic. The panel calls for one man to walk into a toilet cubicle only to find it’s occupied with a drug addict who’s getting high.
Once I have the idea for a comic I will usually lay out all the panels as ‘thumbnails’ in a notepad. As you can see, it’s extremely rough and barely legible.
From there, I use the computer to layout all the panels and print it out on A4 paper. I quickly sketch in what’s going on in the panels. Still very rough.
Ok, I know what’s going on in the panel. If needed, I find reference photos before I start a more polished drawing. I usually use Google Images or a stock photo website such as Getty Images. But since this was a very specific shot, I needed to take the photos myself so I got my wife to take some pics of yours truly in the required poses.
Using the photos as reference, I do a very loose drawing.
I scan in that loose drawing into Photoshop, add the perspective lines, enlarge it and then print it out in very light blue ink onto A3 board that I use for the final artwork.
Now that I have that light blue rough drawing as a guide, I do a much tighter drawing over the top.
Inks – I use mainly Pigma Micron pens and various brush pens. All the hard work (idea, story, pacing, pencils) is done and I consider inking to be the fun and relaxing part. You’ll notice I changed the addict’s right arm to have it injecting the needle instead of hanging down by his side.
Colouring – The inks are scanned and I use Photoshop to do the colouring. Flat colour is added – since this is mainly a black and white comic it makes things a bit easier to figure out.
Special effects and finishing touches are added such as the halftone dots, phone glow and texture. It’s done!
For all you budding cartoonists out there, I plan to write a much more detailed account of exactly HOW I add colours, special effects, what resolution my document is and all the other nitty gritty details in the future. I’ve been saying that for over a year … I’ll get around to it one day!
PS: I’m hard at work on the new comic, look for it next week.