Friday, June 23, 2006

update control

Friday, May 26, 2006

Developer's Diary #2:
The Book Cover art design

I'm still trying to track down the first sketches of the Nowhere Wolf. I think the original sketchbook is still in England so I still can't do what I had first hoped and show you how the Nowhere Wolf and the other characters developed over time. But here's an insight to how the first full-colour Nowhere Wolf came about. It's on the cover of the book.

The cover for the Nowhere Wolf's Vowel Movements book was a real dilemma. I couldn't use colour inside the book, but the cover was fair game for a spot of CMYK magic. The cartoon was developed for newspaper inclusion and so I'd never considered using colour or even how I'd render it if I had the chance. But I sure didn't want a black and white cover for the book -- I wanted something colourful and eyecatching without losing the feel and character of the monochrome cartoons.

The whole process was done in Adobe PhotoShop after importing one of the cartoon panels from Macromedia Freehand. There was little text - PhotoShop can handle text only in small doses -and I wanted as much control over the image as possible. This was the first draft ... really little more than just slapping down the elements, but it became even more obvious (if that's possible) that it needed colour. And the text needed a whole lot of work.

As I wasn't sure how to handle the image, I concentrated on the words. I hated the font and I hated how big my name was. I wanted a hand drawn font. I wanted the title big (not my name). I wanted the words to be eye-catching and friendly. And I didn't want it to look completely classless. After much deliberation I ended up here with a hand-written font and a letterbox format:

So far, so good. The text might change a little depepending on how I treat the image, but it wasn't a bad start. Now, what to do with the image? "Well, I'll just colour it in", I thought. I knew I didn't want to render the Nowhere Wolf or the Cow -- I thought they needed to stay true to the cartoon. And besides, this was just an extension of the way the cartoon is drawn -- props and characters are only rendered when absolutely necessary. So I got out my digital crayons and started colouring it in. Good old PhotoShop!

Ok, so that wasn't the solution. It was colourful ... but lame. Maybe a strange thing to say about a very two dimensional cartoon, but this image was soooo flat. What next? I wracked my brain for things I'd seen recently which I'd been inspired by. I'd been watching a lot of Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network and noticed a lot of the superimposing-drawn-cartoons-over-photo-backdrop thang going on. I thought it could extend the style of the Nowhere Wolf to where it should be if it were ever produced in colour. It's a really nice effect when done well. I thought I'd give it try. I gathered some photos... a sky ... a hill ... some grass ... ok ... now all I had to do was montage it all together. Thanks, PhotoShop.

Ok, this was better, but I was losing some of the cartooniness of the image and it was getting a little heavy and disjointed ... I needed to bring back in some of the colouring I'd done earlier.

I couldn't resist the lens flare. I try to avoid them, but sometimes it just makes such a nice effect (Ok, I lied ... I'm still in denial about lens flares ... I know I shouldn't use them, but I can't resist. I'm a bad monkey). As it happens, it added depth to the image - something which was much needed as I was still resolute about not rendering either of the characters.

The last thing I did was to tie the text and image together by using the same red. And then it was done. Result.

Total time taken ... about 4 hours.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Marketing Journal #8: Advertising Material

Ok, I'm really trying to push the Nowhere Wolf now.

I see the book as an advertising vehicle -- a high quality portfolio piece that will stand alone or can be used as a sample for any interested parties.

So there it is. The first 32 cartoons nicely compiled, ready to go to the syndication companies if/when I get the nerve.

The problem here is the same problem people have all over the net. Traffic. How does anyone find this blog, let alone the book?

Of course all the search directories have been submitted to, as have the blog lists. Cartoon directories are more difficult to come across, but when I find them, obviously I tag them.

And then there's promo pages on the web. Press release sites or just stand-alone pages advertising one's wares. Hopefully, these one-sheets will catch the attention of some Googlers.

We'll wait and see.

Marketing Journal #7
The Nowhere Wolf Review by Bloggeries

This is the review that Bloggeries gave the Nowhere Wolf:

Blog Review-The Nowhere Wolf’s Vowel Movements

“The Nowhere Wolf’s Vowel Movements” is a clever little blog combining original cartoons and the English language. Each day, the Nowhere Wolf has a new misadventure through his butchery of the English language.

The first thing that caught my eye about this blog was the header. The white header features a picture of the Nowhere Wolf and a cow, along with a brief introduction about the concept of the blog. The template pairs a light gray background with black text and red hyper links, which results in a simple but attractive combination.

The best feature of this blog is that it is updated every day. Too many blog owners think that they can get by with only updating two to three times a week, but if you really want to develop a loyal following, daily updates are a must. The daily posts are a single panel cartoon featuring the Nowhere Wolf in some sort of strange situation due to a single vowel being wrong in the caption. My personal favorite was, “It wasn’t so much an argument as an unbalanced runt, thought the Nowhere Wolf.” This caption is paired with a drawing of the Nowhere Wolf looking quite puzzled while staring at a pig leaning sideways. Obviously, this specific cartoon is a play on the word “rant,” with “A” being replaced by another vowel for a humorous outcome.

According to the description, the cartoons are first sketched everyday on pencil and paper, and then given life with Macromedia Freehand. The black and white cartoons are very nice and well designed. This blog is the brainchild of Paul Bowers, a freelance illustrator and designer. I’m impressed with not only his artistic skills, but also his sense of humor and creativity. I would guess that it’s no easy task to come up with a humorous caption each day that can also be sketched.

Overall, “The Nowhere Wolf’s Vowel Movements” is a clever and humorous blog that is designed perfectly for a daily visit and quick laugh to lighten the mood at the office.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Destined for the best seller list?

Finally, the Nowhere Wolf is available in print. Now you can own the fun! This funny little cartoon wolf can be yours to pet at your leisure, impress your book collecting buddies or let the Vowel Movements accompany you when you have your daily movements.

BE SHOCKED! as you see the Nowhere Wolf in color for the first time on the cover !

BE AMUSED! as you see the first ever animated Nowhere Wolf, flick-book style in the page corners.

BE AMAZED! as you see the Nowhere Wolf on paper!

An exciting first in the Nowhere Wolf's history, the 44-page, 8x5 inch, saddle-stitched, paperback book features the first 32 panels from the online cartoon PLUS the author's debauched tale of how the Nowhere Wolf came to be. Printed on 50lb paper with a nice, shiny, glossy, full-color cover, this has everything a book should have ...

... love, romance, betrayal, sex, fear, loathing, barnyard animals ...

... this cartoon has it all!

And you can have it all -- for the modest sum of $9.99 +s&h

    To help search engines only -- ignore this stuff cos it's just a list

      Marketing Journal #6

      As an aside, when visiting other cartoonists' sites, I've noticed a repeating strategy for self-syndication. I have no idea if it works, but it's worth giving it a shot.

      It goes like this:

      If you enjoy the Nowhere Wolf cartoon and would like to see it in your local newspaper, write or email the Features Editor or the Editor and request they include it. Just point them to this website.

      If it's already published, tell them how great it is.

      Give it a try. I'll let you know if it works.

      And if you do give it a try, THANK YOU!

      Marketing Journal #5

      Well things have been busy. Very busy. And the Nowhere Wolf continues to be just one of many projects that have to be balanced every day.

      So he's done the rounds of a few more newspapers but he still doesn't have a home. I'm beginning to think I need someone else to promote this as there just isn't enough time in the day. If anyone wants a job (long hours, no pay), drop me a line.

      Last week he also got a great write-up at Bloggeries. A very favourable review indeed, despite the website not displaying as intended on the blog-reviewers browser.

      That problem's been sorted. Now it's time to keep pushing the Nowhere Wolf and try to get this cartoon syndicated.

      Tuesday, May 02, 2006

      The first, the longest and the largest

      You'll have heard this before a million times ... "do your research". And while what follows isn't strictly directly related to marketing or development it's interesting none-the-less.

      A few cartoon facts:

      Earliest Cartoon strip in US newspaper:
      "The Yellow Kid" - New York World, 1895

      This is the most cited example of the first cartoon... but there are plenty of examples predating it. It was this cartoon that gave rise to the term "yellow journalism". During the American-Spanish war the newspapers that ran the cartoon (refered to as the "yellow papers") became known for their sensationalist and innacurate reportage and hence the term "yellow journalism" arose.

      Longest running strip:
      "The Katzenjammer Kids" - 1897 to present

      Created by Rudolph Dirks for the American Humorist in 1897, Kings Features still syndicates this strip today. Today it is drawn by Hy Eisman

      Most syndicated comic strip:
      Peanuts - 1950 to present appearing in more than 2,300 newspapers

      Peanuts has had a long history with 50 years and 18,000 strips. After Charles Schulz's death no new strips have been drawn as were his wishes.

      Friday, April 28, 2006

      Marketing journal #4 - The inside track

      This site is a must read for all cartoonists.

      'nuff said.

      Wednesday, April 26, 2006

      Marketing diary #3 - A stiff upper lip

      So today has been busy ... and not overwhelmingly positive, but that's ok.

      Or is it? I mean 100 or so hits on the website per day and only 16 people have voted ever. So in two weeks, out of 1,000 visitors only 16 have liked it enough to have an opinion. That's not even 2 people in a hundred!

      Should I consider this as 16/1,000 people like the strip or should I just put the lack of voting down to web-habits? I think I'll put it down to web-habits.

      First rule of freelancing. Expect rejection. It is your friend.

      Currently, it is my BEST friend!


      Marketing Journal #2 - Too little time

      The problem I have is simple: too much to do too little time.

      So what marketing has been done today? Nothing! Absolutely bugger all. And I've not seen any feedback relating directly to the Nowhere Wolf.


      I did spend a little time ironing out some kinks on the blog, but that's about it. I'm trying to run a business, work a full time job AND push the Nowhere Wolf.

      Before this becomes a "poor me" post, I'd like to say I love what I do. Just some days seem to have less hours than others. I'm not sure whether this proves or disproves Einstein's theories.

      The moral here is TIME MANAGEMENT.

      And rather than waste my time posting about how little I've done and wasting yet more time, I'd better do some work.