Monday, April 29, 2013

The Chapbooks Are Finished!

Yes- at long last, the chapbooks are done, and it is a wonderful feeling. Not only are they done- they're awesome. They're bound together with string at the spines. I used a needle and thread to do it- that's dedication, right there.

My only real regret is that I couldn't get the cover to cover the entire cover page. And don't think that I didn't try. I tried every button I could see and printed every which way and researched everything and did all I could do. It's just a combination of Microsoft Word not being Adobe InDesign and my printer not being a professional printer, I think. But I care very little about it at this point. I'm very proud that I figured out how to get the document to print like a booklet, with the pages matching and front-and-back and all that. I used the "book fold" setting in the page layout area and printed it on both sides with it flipping on the short side. Worked like a dream. Folding and binding were different stories. But now it's done!

And now that that's done, I can finally focus on studying for my American Lit final, which is going to be exponentially harder.

Always With The Technical Difficulties

Too bad it's not called "Red Justice." Guess I'll be going out to buy some more printer ink.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue Justice

It is with a sore and cramping hand that I type this blog post because I have been drawing for (I kid thee not) the past six hours. I've been making the cover for my previously-mentioned poetry chapbook, and I was so excited about it that I inadvertently spent all day doing it. It's kind of sad, because the artwork really doesn't have to be that good and I've got other things I could be doing, but... Man, I'm just so excited about this.


Beautiful, isn't it? *sniffle*

Tomorrow I'll print out the pages of poetry and bind them together with this as the cover. I researched comic book covers when I was making the layout for this and also referred to my copy of Stan Lee's how-to book. Needless to say, I have not yet mastered the comic book method of drawing people, but I incorporated a few elements of the Marvel style into the design for this character.

This poem is sort of what I think a comic book would look like if it was translated into poetry. It's told from the point of view of the police officer on the cover. She's only called by her name once in the poem; most of the time all the characters are referred to as "he" or "she" except when it gets too difficult to discern who is who. All of the dialogue is in italics and without quotation marks.

That's something new for me, really. As a general rule, I'm very adamant about having quotation marks and I usually roll my eyes at people who feel they are too artistic to use them (to be fair, I usually write prose), although after trying it, I can understand better why people elect not to use them. In this case, I feel like it helps the poem flow better. If it were a comic, you'd be able to tell who was saying what without clunky tags like "Officer Coulson said." I feel that if I were to put names in this poem, the characters would be tripping over their own names. It's too fast-paced for that kind of business. 

Not calling characters by their names is different for me, too. Usually if I've given a character a name, the narrator calls him or her by that name. I was afraid all the "he" and "she" business would get confusing, but I think it actually worked out pretty well. For the record, Officer Coulson's first name is Renee, and she is named after Agent Phil Coulson of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She is a badass.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Children's Literature - Now With Doodles

Sometimes I doodle while I take notes. As long as I'm not drawing anything too complicated, it helps me pay attention while the professor's saying something that doesn't need to be written down. In some cases it can also help me stay awake, although I'm proud to say that it's been quite a while since I've fallen asleep in class!

I doodled A LOT in my Children's Literature class. Usually the pictures had something to do with whatever we were reading.

Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick. There's Dick, with his hat, and raggedy coat, and bootblack supplies...

And here's good old Tom of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Aaaaand some strange doodles on the back of the Tom Sawyer notes...

Here's Jim Hawkins sailing on the Hispaniola, straight out of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell from J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy.

Swamp-themed (and otherwise) doodles on notes for A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter.

More Limberlost doodles.

And I don't even need to say anything because all the info's in the picture.

The Stan Lee Way

This has been a rough week for me. And it's only Wednesday. But Tuesday afternoon while I was sitting in the library and trying to get some work done on a paper before dinner, I got a phone call from my dad. He told me that he'd sent me a package and that it had arrived at my school's package center. Since I was in the middle of a paper and I was pretty sure the package center wouldn't have even processed it yet (sometimes they're slow about that), I thanked my dad and told him I'd pick it up first thing in the morning.

Of course that package didn't distract me at all.

Twenty minutes later, I gathered up my stuff, left the library, and all but ran to the package center. It's nothing to sneeze at when your dad calls you to let you know he's bought you something, especially during dead week when all hope seems lost. "Yeah," the girl behind the desk said as she checked her computer. "It says you've got a book."

A book?

I love books!!!!!!

But what kind of book was it, I wondered? A novel? A textbook? A notebook? A comic book? I wondered all the way home, holding the cardboard box as if it were silver or gold. Something was sliding around in it just a little bit. The box was maybe an inch thick, not too heavy, roughly the length and width of a high school text book... What was it?

I finally got home, plunked myself down on my bedroom floor, and tore the box open.

The first thing I saw: "HOW TO DRAW COMICS."


The second thing I saw: "STAN LEE."


My dad had gotten me this book:

I absolutely love making little comics every now and then, as readers of this blog know, but I just don't have a whole lot of artistic skill. With this book, I can learn to draw comics THE STAN LEE WAY. And that, my friends, is a very good way. Stan is the MAN. I've never read a real comic book, but I know this to be true.

I was very distracted from my paper for about an hour afterward.

But luckily, today I turned in two papers and took a final exam, which means that things are going to be a little slower around here for a few days. I decided to use my newfound free time to try drawing some things. I made up a hero costume using a model the book provided, but it wasn't cool enough to post. I also drew a guy's head.

...I'll get there eventually. I really like the left eye and the bottom lip.

So I'll be playing around with this for a while, especially as I make my poetry chapbook over the next few days (it's due Tuesday... yikes). I suspect it'll come in handy for the graphic novel class I'll be taking next fall. I'm really, really excited about this book! Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Random Fact #5

Random Fact #5: Paideia is a "system of education and training in classical Greek and Hellenistic (Greco-Roman) cultures that included such subjects as gymnastics, grammar, rhetoric, music, mathematics, geography, natural history, and philosophy. In the early Christian era the Greek paideia, called humanitas in Latin, served as a model for Christian institutions of higher learning, such as the Christian school of Alexandria in Egypt, which offered theology as the culminating science of their curricula.The term was combined with enkyklios ("complete system," or "circle") to identify a large compendium of general education, hence 'encyclopaedia.'"

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica (2008), as found on

Note: I saw the word "paideia" in an article I was looking at while doing research and said something along the lines of "wut." I don't like seeing words and not knowing what they mean. So I looked it up. Because I'm Batman crazy an English major.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Superhero Character Design

What's this? Have I actually drawn someone other than myself? And it's a GUY?

I never draw men because I'm just not good at it. Not sexist. Just bad at drawing. Can never get the hair right. True story.

But yep! I drew a picture of a guy. He's a superhero. He wears shades of blue, he's super strong, and he can fly. He's not bulletproof and he doesn't have laser vision and he can't fly fast enough to turn back time. I'm not completely ripping off Superman.

It's 1:30 A.M., I've just finished writing a paper, I've gotten precious little sleep over the last four days, and I decided to stay up and draw a superhero. I don't know. I just felt like it, I guess.

So why am I drawing a superhero? That is a very good question. No, I'm not making a comic or a graphic novel or anything like that. I'm making something one might find slightly less impressive: a poetry chapbook. It's basically the final exam for my poetry class. For our most recent workshop I wrote a poem called "Blue Justice" about a policewoman and a superhero (it's not as romantic as you expect), and it was super long and narrative-y because I am almost incapable of writing a poem without trying to tell a story in it. But my teacher really liked it and told me that I should expand it, add pictures, and boom- there's my chapbook.

So I'm starting to play around with character designs. This picture is definitely flawed and I am definitely incapable of drawing something that doesn't look cartoony, and I definitely have a lot to learn about drawing human bodies, but... I'm pretty impressed with this picture. In fact, I'm a little sad because I don't know if I'll be able to draw this guy again and have him look this good. Does anybody out there on the Internet have any suggestions? Comments? Tips? Free drawing lessons? Remember I'm a writer who likes to draw, not an artist. If you use big art-y words, I will have to go look them up (although I'll probably post the definitions as Random Facts afterward).

I am actually taking a graphic novel class next fall. It'll be either really awesome or a massive fail.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Random Fact #4

Random Fact #4: The term "antebellum" refers to the period of time before a war, especially the American Civil War.

Source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Note: Once upon a time I knew that. But tonight my brain was acting silly and I was convinced the term described things after a war. It's a good thing I checked that, because that would have been an awful thing to put in my paper...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Random Fact #3

Random Fact #3: Three mini chocolate cupcakes from Publix make up one serving. One serving of mini cupcakes is 250 calories. Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet, one serving of these cupcakes is one eighth of your calories for the day.

Today I have eaten... more than three. 

No, I didn't eat the entire box! I brought these to a party. Even I'm not that silly, you guys.

Source: Cupcake Nutrition Label, Calculator

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Technical Difficulties: The Conclusion

Over the last couple of days I've been blogging about the difficulties I've been having trying to make an advertisement for my French class. Here is the conclusion.

My problem was that I was trying to use my Wacom tablet and ArtRage Studio to do this project. ArtRage is a wonderful little bit of software and I love it, but it's really meant for drawing, I think. Perhaps some people have had better luck than I editing photos with it, but from now on I will use it only for drawing things from scratch.

(Unless I stumble upon an excellent tutorial that will show me how to use ArtRage Studio for editing photos. Anybody? There's a comments box...)

I love my Wacom tablet dearly, and I was very excited that I could use it for a school project. However, my insistence on using it led me to create a product that was much less professional than the one I had envisioned.

Also, I was trying to do it at 1 A.M. and I don't think I need to tell you how successful projects are at 1 A.M.

So today I happened to be in the library and have some free time because all my classes were cancelled (inclement weather, but that's another story) and I found an unoccupied computer in the Digital Production Area. It was a Mac and it had a really cool keyboard.

(Random note: I really prefer Windows over Mac, but I absolutely love the way Apple keyboards feel and look)

The cool keyboard was nice, but the important part of this computer was that it had Adobe InDesign installed on it. While I am not that great of an artist and am relatively new to ArtRage Studio, I have a lot more experience working with InDesign. We used InDesign to put together our literary magazine in high school (click here if you'd like to see it) and as I sat down and began to play with it, a lot of stuff came back to me. I even began to have FUN, which is the polar opposite of how this project was going on Monday night.

Why was it going so much better? Well, working on it during daylight hours helped, I'm sure. But InDesign is exactly the kind of software one should use when one is trying to make a one page advertisement. Yes, there are less expensive ways to do this, like PowerPoint and such, but I feel like stuff just looks shinier when you do it on InDesign. I dabbled around on Adobe Photoshop a little as well, trying to free my bottle of barbecue sauce from its prison of black. The crop job is a little messy, but honestly, it's not bad for someone who had to Google how to do it.

So this is what my advertisement looked like when I rage-quit and went to bed on Monday night:

And here's what it looks like now:

It's no professional job, that's for sure, and there's a lot of potential for someone to think I spent about five minutes on it (I SPENT AT LEAST AN HOUR ON IT, YOU JERKS), but I'm really happy with it. I even caught a spelling error in the logo and was able to fix it. I hope I get more opportunities to play with InDesign (or, you know, an editing internship) because I really, really like it.

As I should have explained earlier, "Apportez LE BLEU chez vous!" translates more or less to "Bring home THE BLUE!" "Les Biftecks Bleus" (The Blue Beefsteaks) is the name of the imaginary steakhouse/hamburger joint chain that my partner and I made up for our Commercial French class. It's a swanky place, y'all. The food isn't actually blue (that would be gross), but The Blue is the overall experience you have at the restaurant. We're now selling our signature barbecue sauce in grocery stores so that everyone can Bring Home THE BLUE! And now there's an ad for it.

And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Random Fact #2

Random Fact #2: When an ant bites you, it can draw blood.

Source: Personal Experience

Random Fact #1

Today I'll start a running list of random facts as I discover them. You learn something new every day, right? I thought I might as well share some of the more interesting facts I discover.

Random Fact #1: If you get toothpaste in your eye, it really stings for a few minutes.

Source: Personal Experience

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Result of Technical Difficulty

Just to clarify my frustration last night, this is kind of what I was going for with my advertisement:

Doesn't that look awesome?

But this is what I got...

Bleeeaaurghhh. I was so frustrated with trying to get the bottle of barbecue sauce to look the way I wanted it to that I totally didn't realize how hard it is to read the text. And sadly, the bottle still doesn't look the way I want it to. I gave up trying to stick in pictures of delectable meat. It just wasn't working. At all.

If I can find the time before the final draft is due, I might try to snag a computer at the library that has Adobe InDesign. Maybe I'll have better luck with my photo editing and stuff that way. And I think I'll try to print it out with my own printer, because I suspect my printer will do a better job and I won't have to pay fifteen cents a page for it.

Wish me luck.

* Les Biftecks Bleus logo originally designed by Jordan Cooper, my partner in this project who is probably having better luck with it than I am

Technical Difficulties

Three guesses why this comic is done in pen.

I have to make an advertisement for one of my classes. I thought, "Oh, I'll just use my tablet! It'll look awesome!"

Except it doesn't. Because I can't get the software to do what I want it to do. I don't think I'm using the right software. But I think I'm too angry to care now.

I hate it when I think something is going to turn out epic and then it just looks like I played with it for five minutes in Paint.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mikayla!

Today is my sister Mikayla's birthday. In her honor, I have finally attempted to draw someone other than myself and I have made friends with the glitter tool. I also found a tolerable shade of yellow. It took a while. Yellow is hard. But my sister's worth it!

Happy Birthday, Seestur! You're the best!