Sophie Anderson 2003-2016, our angel on loan from heaven.

Writing Tips: Five Ways to Use Google Keep

google keep header

Let’s kick off these writing tips with a pop quiz. Aside from running out of coffee beans, what’s the number one crisis for writers and cartoonists? Organization. Now, if you’re one of the one percent of one percent creative types who doesn’t get distracted every five seconds, this little post won’t help you. Plus, the rest of us hate you.

image02I started using “to-do” lists years ago just to keep things prioritized. It helped immensely, until I kept losing the lists.
So I switched to digital solutions. There’s a lot of them and I’ve tried almost every one, from the “post-it” app to “Remember the Milk” (is that still around?). They worked, but w
ere sometimes clunky and crashy. Also, it was hard to lug around a tower unit so I wouldn’t forget something at the art supply store. Then a little while back, Google Keep showed up in the Play Store. Been using it ever since. And it does a heck of lot more than remind you how much you haven’t gotten done. Here’s a few:

1.Virtual Index Cards

Back in my cubicle days I would spend my lunches with a stack of index cards writing screenplays. You can do the same thing with Google Keep. I mapped out a picture book using one note per page. The apps smooth UI makes it super simple to rearrange cards. The one drawback is you won’t be able to work on multiple projects at one time. Best to outline one idea at a time.

Keep also has labels, which will allow you to group things by subject. Or organize a novel by acts and chapters. Again, best to keep it basic outline. Enough to give you a framework to start writing. As of now, Keep isn’t quite robust enough to handle a highly structured outline. You can transfer it into Scrivener (everybody uses Scrivener now, right?) and flesh it out.

2.Google Keep for Cartoonists

Yep, you can sketch notes in Keep too. I had been using the Samsung app that came with my phone, which was better in the drawing department, but Keep beats it in several other categories which I’ll mention later.

So anywhere, anytime you can scratch a comic idea into Keep, and you can even use a separate note for each panel. Quite handy when you’re waiting for your son to get out of school. It also has pinch and zoom to get in closer and add a bit more detail. The app needs a more work on its pen selection, but hey, we’re shooting for fast and furious and not a Mike Mignola watercolor.

3. Google Keep is seriously Portable

This is my favorite feature and the one that made me switch from my Samsung app. If you can get online you can get to your notes. Don’t have your phone? No prob, so long as you can borrow one or a laptop or a modified toaster, anything that can get online, you’ve got your Keep. I will say, it is much easier using it to storyboard on a laptop, simply because of the wider screen.

4. The Obvious Reason: Organize Your Day

This is of course is the main purpose behind Keep, and boy, howdy, it shines. I have one list for longterm items and another for the daily business that needs to get done. One thing I’ve had to be careful off is adding too many notes. Best to consolidate items whenever possible. And it’s super fun to check the little boxes everytime you complete a task.

When I was putting together my first Dog eat Doug collection and wishing InDesign was a real person I could punch in the face, I kept track of my process in Keep. That way, on later volumes, I had all the tricks for reducing PDF file sizes right at the tip of my mouse button.

Keep is handy for research and collecting photo reference. You can zip articles and such over to Keep right from your browser. I’m starting to do this more and more. Evernote has been my go to for collecting reference materials for many years but I find Keep’s clipping interface much less cumbersome, and I don’t have to dig around to find it later.

Also should mention the “reminders” feature, which is exactly what it sounds like. You can have notes pop up on your phone and laptop to remind you about an upcoming conference call or to take a shower every six days.image00

5. Best for Last: Dictation

Writers and Cartoonists know that ideas are fleeting. You bite into a doughnut and suddenly you see before you, from start to finish, the greatest sci-fi, noir, who-dunnit story of all time. Two bites later and it’s gone. Forever. Or is it?

“Okay, Google,” I said, showering my Samsung Galaxy with crumbs. “Take a note.”

Those few words are all you need to save the most awesomest idea ever without touching a button, which means you can have a doughnut in both hands. Sure, you could waste this power on making grocery lists and such, but that would be like SpiderMan using his powers only for spackling rusted bathtubs.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t even mention the collaboration feature, as I haven’t tried it out yet. All in all, Google Keep is like having a tiny forest sprite as an assistant. Except less sparkly. Give it a try, if you haven’t already, and let me know if you have even better uses for it than I could come up with.

A Poem for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! Thought I’d reformat Sunday’s comic to make it easier to read. I think you can tell I based the art on my favorite movie of all time, “Pan’s Labyrinth”. Well, it’s tied with “The Nightmare before Christmas” but obviously it’s impossible to compare the two.

Also, thought I’d share a link to a lovely bit of Halloween history, courtesy of History.com. The Irish roots of the holiday are almost as fun as free candy. Part of me wishes we kept some of those old traditions:

Click here for the history of Halloween.

And of course, it’s the only time of year when it’s socially acceptable to share my deep love of vintage Halloween photos. If you’ve never ventured down that rabbit hole, I highly recommend taking a stroll down the path of the creepiest, most unsettling images you’ll ever see. I’ll leave you with one of my favorites:

Image result for vintage halloween photos

Have fun tonight and stay safe.

A New Collection of Puppy and Baby Comics

Dog eat Doug Volume six

Click here to get “Dog eat Doug Volume 6”.

It’s here! The sixth collection of “Dog eat Doug” strips. Again, I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting my self-publishing endeavor. I do have to ask for one quick favor: I need your reviews! It would appear, and thankfully so, that in this world of SEO, spambots and automated everything, word of mouth still caries the most weight.

So if you’ve picked up any of my family and kid friendly collections, I would be eternally grateful if you took a minute and gave them a rating on Amazon. Even say a few words. Thanks!

Also wanted to thank Amazon user TSOJ for their flattering review of the new collection:

Brian has one of the best contemporary children’s cartoon strips on the market. You want Tim Burton? You want Clive Barker? You want a funny smell coming from a diaper? (well, maybe not that last one) You want cute babies and puppies living in a household that occasionally gets visited by sweet, huggable demon cats? Then you want Dog Eat Doug 6 (you probably want all of the previous 5 books, too). But, ya, get this book.

Not sure who you are, but thank you. Especially love how you snuck Clive Barker in there.

Click here to get “Dog eat Doug Volume 6”.

Inktober, Part 3

intober2016

This Inktober sketch is based on a Victorian dress. Some sort of winged beastie is morphing out of it. I might explore this idea with future doodles. I only used a Uni .38 pen on this, then did a few ink washes over the page. Inktober is a great opportunity to experiment with different styles. In future scribbles, I’ll work on combining the ballpoints and the brushes.

Inktober, Part 2

inktober 2016

I’m a bit behind posting these to the website. Generally I whip these up as quick as I can then just post them around to social media. The name of the game is speed. Inktober is a great exercise to break away from whatever project I’m working on and do something random. Helps loosen the gunk around the creative gears.

Inktober 

Its that time of year again. Time to put aside twenty minutes a day and whip up something with pen and ink. I’ll post my Inktober doodles here as well as on social media. It really is a great excercise to refresh the creative engine.
As you can see, im going with a Victorian theme this year. I might not make everyday, but really speed is the key, so I should come up with at least a scribble.

Dog eat Doug Volume Six

Dog eat Doug Volume six

Yep. Volume six is almost patched together. That means there’ll be some giveaways and deals on the past editions coming up. I’ll announce everything in the newsletter first. So if you haven’t signed up yet, drop your email in the hat and grab the free ebook while you’re at it.

There will be some Conjurers news in a bit too, as I’m in the process of finalizing the copy and laying out the first the novel.  That will hopefully include a final, set in stone publication date. Stay tuned!

Free Book

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Another quick post about the free ebook. Hopefully everyone on the email list got the link to their free copy. I’m new to setting up this type of thing, so if you find any wrinkles, let me know. If you’re reading this and aren’t on the list and want the book, just sign up in the right side bar. Or, wait for the nifty, quasi-annoying pop up box.

If you enjoyed the ebook, please help spread the word. It’s not like you’re asking someone to sign up for a super-spammy email. I rarely send them out. When I do, it’s to announce new books, deals on current books or cool free stuff.

Speaking of which, there will be a volume two of “A Darker Shade of Plaid”. Free, of course, to everyone on the mailing list. It’ll take me a bit to collect the poems, shine ’em up a bit and pop on some scratchy doodles.

As always, feel free to let me know what you thought about the book, or any of the other books, or the strip, or the webcomic,  or your thoughts on mice traveling to Mars.  Drop me a line on social media or leave a comment here at the ol’ homestead.

sample poem from free ebook

Free ebook: Oddly Illustrated Poems

free ebookI hate to call these leftovers, but they kind of are. I have notebooks full of strange doodles and rhymes. I never intended to write odd poems, it just happened.

So when I wanted some sort of incentive for people to subscribe to my newsletter, I came up with the idea of collecting a few of the more coherent poems. And here it is. Yours for simply grabbing my newsletter. I don’t send many, and when I do they are for announcing new books or book sales and such.

If enough of these strange bits fill a few more notebooks, I will put together another collection. And I’ll add in a helping of the single panel cartoons that litter the pages between the poems.

And that’s it. Drop your email in the subscription box and you’ll get a link to the ebook. Only a PDF for now. Once I have time to gussy up the internal workings of my email server, I’ll add the option of epub and mobi.

If you do snag a copy, let me know what you think in the comments or on facebook or twitter or send me a pigeon or smoke signals.


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“Dream Jumper” – A Quick Review

Sophie reviews "Dream Jumper"

Right, in full disclosure, I’m a little biased. I’m a big fan of Lucas’ work. That said, he and Greg have made something special with “Dream Jumper”. My initial reaction after reading it the first time was the craving for more. I want more of this world and, more importantly, these characters. That’s where this dynamic duo really rocked. They hook you right away on the main characters. So many times I’ve read graphic novels that use worn out, on the nose, horrifically obvious tools to get you to like the people in the story.

You know what I’m talking about, the literal “save the cat from the tree” scene, that has proliferated graphic novels and movies alike. They rarely have the intended effect of making the reader go “awwww!” with glassy, anime eyes. Instead, they jolt you right out of the story, ruining the illusion. Not in “Dream Jumper”. Again, I won’t mention specifics of some of these subtleties, but they’re there and they put you right next to the hero. And off you go.

I guess my only complaint is that it wasn’t enough. I wanted more, and thankfully, more is coming. So, Lucas, if you’re reading this, stop! Get back to work!

P.S. Sophie had one complaint after reading it: The paper was not bacon flavor.

Dog eat Doug Volume 4 is out!

dog eat doug volume 4

Indeed, I have self published another volume. You can get the kindle or print version by visiting the “My Books” page.  As you can tell, I went with a Bruce Lee tribute theme this time.  Also, you may have noticed the newsletter signup field over there on the right. I’ve decided to have a special little list that will offer news and some special deals and giveaways as opposed to just casting things off into the social media winds. Sign up, and no worries, I won’t be sending them often.

A Brief Update from the Conjurian.

first draft moleskine

Indeed, this project has taken a lot more work than anticipated and I anticipated a lot. However, my editor and publisher want to get it right. Doing things outside the box means a lot of growing pains and learning as you go. Been a ton of that.

So, as it goes right now, I’m streaming words for book two, as you can see in the photo. Yes, that’s a tiger with a rabbit in its mouth and it’s not what you think. Unless you think it’s something more than a tiger with a rabbit in its mouth. Then you’re on the right track. I have a solid, working outline of book two. Nine chapters in, I’m discovering lots of cool bits that don’t show up when you outline stories. The focus on book two is getting the words down, fast and furious. Type it into the box with all the circuits and such, cut of the jagged edges and send it off to my ridiculously patient editor. By that time she should be sending me the manuscript for book one. That needs final line edits, final art direction and final, final art.

While things have been delayed quite a bit, the good news is we’re figuring out this odd way of slipping from prose to art and art to prose and a few variations in between. The other good news is that there won’t be a delay between books. That, right now, is key. And the first webcomic companion will finish its run soon. There’ll be another companion right after that one, which should be much less experimentally. More on that later after I finish torturing my Lamy on this draft.

Dog eat Doug Volume Three

So, in the little cracks of time between rewriting and illustrating the novel, I manage to patch together these DeD collections. Usually I spend twenty minutes a night browsing through the archive until I have enough strips for a full volume, about 128 pages with three strips on each.

Then, in those same nooks of time, I design and finish the cover. That’s where I am now, and here is the initial art for volume three. Still needs a few tweaks. It takes a while when you only spend a few minutes a day on it, but I hope to have this out by December.

Dog eat Doug volume three cover

Not Final Art

New Character Studies

We’re now in the process of Frankensteining together book one. Still some edits, nips and tucks and art changes to be done. But we’re getting to the point of seeing where everything goes and what goes where and making up rules as we go.

On the art side of things, I’m laying out the structural thumbnails of the finished art while also finalizing the style. So far, I like the layout of the shots, but the art became to rigid and lifeless. Mostly because I was so focused on getting the perspective and anatomy down, the line work became mechanical. The good thing is that, as long as I have a solid foundation, I can easily focus on redrawing the characters and such with more vitality. Part of that is creating a character reference sheet. Get their sizes, looks and styles down. Here are the latest samples from that sheet of the three main characters. Still some more tweaking to go.

main characters from the Conjurers Book one

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