Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 8:39:35 AM by Chris Flick
Sorry, but for some of us (okay, me!), TODCON '05 is still alive and well. You don't believe me? You should see my sketchbook! :-)
No, really! I'm serious.
Actually, all of the TODCON '05 CMX Suite strips you've seen so far were done on the plane during my flight home. I guess that's one advantage to being a "traditional" artist in the sense that as long as I have my sketchbook, pencils and eraser, I'm never at a lost as how to spend my time on long trips like Molly was recently asking advice for before she took her trip to Japan.
The problem for me though isn't always how to spend my time but rather will inspiration magically flow onto the white pages starring blankly back at me? Sometimes, that's the most maddening - and intimidating - part. Just starring at a blank page - or maybe a blank Fireworks canvass - and HOPING an idea will instantly spring out of your head and explode out of our finger tips or mouse. Sometimes it comes and sometimes the blank page (or electronic canvass) just laughs at you unmercifully.
Fortunately, that was NOT the case with my plane trip back home.
TODCON filled me up with so much inspiration, I found my sketchbook filling up page after page after page. So much so, I almost - almost - didn't want the plane to land. First I had Scott's cartoon, then Laurie's Zumanity, then Paul's. I even started on next week's strip - sorry Tom (LOL!). And then, of course, there was poor Ray.
For those that attended TODCON this year, you know how miserable Ray looked and felt. I know I did because I have had my share of sinus infections in the past and they are miserable, miserable things to deal with. They wipe you out just enough so you're left feeling awfully miserable but with just enough energy you think you can muster through something as important as... say, oh, running a whole darn web developing conference in the middle of the City of Sin. :-)
So now a few weeks later, I feel a little bit better (or would that be "safer"?) giving Ray something to look back on and laugh about. Ray, I know you may not have enjoyed Las Vegas as much as you might have in previous years, but I know all of us who attended TODCON this year (regardless if we were CMX Partners or not) really appreciate you being such a trooper that you were.
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:55:39 AM by Chris Flick
High school was finally nearing its long, drawn out preclusion to the summer days. All through the hallways, kids were already preparing for their beach trips or their summer vacation plans with their families as they walked the hallways decked out in their Ocean Pacific attire.
Everyone could taste the sweet smell of summer - even the school administrators admitted this by relaxing the rules and letting the kids play music on their "boomboxes" around their lockers - from Journey's "Don't stop believing" to Michael Sembello's "Maniac". Oh yes. Summer was in the air. You could hear it. You could taste it. You could feel it.
But before any of that happened - before summer could OFFICIALLY begin that year - some more important things had to be answered first. Answers that couldn't be found in any text book or a final exam sheet. Answers that no school administrator, teacher or counselor could help you with. Answers that plagued you for three and a half years... Made you crazy with anticipation.
And so it was May 1983 and I found myself agreeing to something I never thought would be possible - I was about to throw caution to the wind. I was about to become a "bad boy" - a "rule breaker". I was about to laugh in the face of the dreaded "after school detention".
My "gang" - that four-man ruthless, fearless gang of Commodore 64 game playing, comic book reading, animation fan geeks - were about to do something really crazy, really outrageous. The plan was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. How could it possibly fail? And yet, it was so simple... So, so simple, you had to laugh at how easy it was all going to be. Skip the last class of the day, get into our gang leader's car before anyone noticed we were gone, head to the local mall and be one of the first in line to see the...MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF ALL TIME...
Return of the Jedi.
And so we skipped our last class of the day - PE - and headed to the mall. Oh yes, our plan was brilliant. Skip the last day of class so we could be one of the first in line to see what would become of the dreaded Empire or the Rebels... What of Han? Surely he couldn't die, could he? Would Chewie and Lando be able to save him? Would Luke ever finish his Jedi training with Yoda as he promised? But more importantly... The question EVERYONE had been asking, speculating, even arguing about... Was Vader REALLY Luke's father???
Those were the questions we asked ourselves all the way to the mall - even as we laughed at the poor, poor pitiful fools who weren't as brilliant as us. Those pitiful fools who weren't brave enough to risk detention... Who were going to have to wait FOREVER to be able buy a ticket to see "Jedi".
We were still laughing even as we ealked up to the ticket booth, only to see in our horror and disgust: The 1 o'clock show - sold out. The 2 o'clock show - sold out. The 3 o'clock show... Also sold out. But the 4 o'clock show... Yeah, baby, THAT was our salvation! And so we slowly walked to the end of the line... Out of the inside of the cool, air-conditioned mall...around the corner of the Crown Bookstore where posters of the recently released hardback "Return of the Jedi" silently laughed at mocked us through the cheery glass windows.
Finally, around the three hour waiting mark, we finally stopped laughing at our so called "brilliant plan". Oh yes... We were brilliant alright. We didn't bring any reading material... Didn't even bring anything to shade ourselves from a sun that seemed to be trying to get in shape for the long, long summer ahead.
But still, after 4 and a half hours and two of us taking 20 minute "mall walking shifts", we had our tickets. We had our popcorn. And we had the thrill of hearing that heart-pounding, hair raising theme of Vader's open up the movie... Ba-ba-baba...ba..ba..ba..baba..ba...
And we were thrilled beyond belief.
That's what it was like in 1983 anticipating the opening of "Jedi". There were no multiplexes back then. The mall we went to had maybe 6 or seven screen. Three of those were reserved for Jedi and yet all the shows - all day long - were sold out hour in advance. Even a week later, I still had to wait in a 2 hour line when my brother wanted to go see Jedi.
Then last week, going to see "Sin City" with my wife, I saw that our local multiplex was advertising the fact that you could purchase your "Episode III" tickets on-line, TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE!!! And I suddenly found myself a little sadden by the fact that as great as technology is today - as convenient as we seem to make our lives - I wonder how much "little things" we miss?
Gone are the days of sitting on the sidewalk in front of a movie theatre with a bunch of your best friends waiting multiple hours just to be able to purchase a ticket for a movie you've been waiting several years to see.
Now, if you ask me what those friends and I might have talked about during that 4 and a half hour span way back in May, 1983... honestly, I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you I look back at that whole experience - the planning, the driving, the anticipation and yes, even the sitting - was something I look back on with fond memories.
And that's just something you'll never be able to buy online or in advance.
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005 9:03:43 AM by Chris Flick
Alrighty then, folks...
I thought I'd jot down a few random thoughts about this week's CMX Suite strip. I don't know if this will be a "regular" habit of mine, but it is something I have been thinking about doing for a while now. Consider it a bit like "Inside the Actor's Studio" only now, you are entering "inside a cartoonist's head". If ANY of you ever remember the short lived FOX TV show called "Herman's Head", you get the idea.
Anyway... as you can obviously tell, today's strip was a product of being very mesmerized by Molly Holzschlag during TODCon '05 two weeks ago. Here's a little secret I'm going to share with you all... even though I probably SHOULD have known who Molly was prior to TODCon, I didn't. Heck, I didn't even pay attention to who was presenting all the CSS stuff that was at TODCon this year - I was just determined to attend as many CSS sessions as I possibly could to see if this silly artist could FINALLY wrap his head around the bizarre universe known as "table-less designs".
Well... that's not going to happen any time soon, I can tell you that!
But still, I forged ahead and went to the first CSS session at TODCon and was immediately blown away by Molly's personality. And, as many people will tell you - including Molly herself - she has quite an overcharged personality. And as typical with a personality like that, some love it and some can't handle it. Me? For whatever reason, I've always seemed to be more comfortable around people that have a personality like Molly's. And when I find someone interesting - like I did Molly - I start drawing them. Or, at least, I start drawing a representation of them.
As all the CMX partners will tell you, none of my cartoons of them - either in their strip or on their blog pages- actually looks anything like them. That was for a very conscious decision on my part. I've done caricatures in the past - I still do caricatures as gifts or commissions - so I could have easily spent a lot of time creating caricatures of all the CMX Partners but that would have taken a tremendous amount of time to duplicate in a web comic strip form. Instead, I wanted to create more of a "representation" of that person - make them a bit more "animated-like" so to speak. That meant having to sacrifice "likeness" for "simplification".
So, what does all that have to do with Molly?
Well, when you first meet Molly, two things immediately capture your attention - her hair (her wild, crazy hair) and her eyes. So that's where my sketches started. And before long, I suddenly had what looked like a Japanese Animated looking female character - only with long, crazy, curly hair. And, when it comes to drawing women, I absolutely love drawing long, wild and crazy hair. The crazier the hair, the better.
And Molly fell right into that category!
Now, the whole part about the CSS Jedi Warrior came towards the end of the conference in a casual conversation with Stef Sullivan - one of my fellow CMX partners whom I consider to be my personal CSS hero (Shhh! Don't tell her though. Let's just keep that OUR little secret, shall we?). Let me tell you... Being in the presence of those two ladies - with their awesome CSS skills - DEFINITELY made me feel like that poor shlub of a Storm trooper Commander who stopped Obi Wan and Luke in Episode 4 asking about R2 and C3-PO...
Originally, I thought I'd sketch Stef in a Jedi outfit ala Mace Windu and maybe we'd put it on a mouse pad and sell it at CafePress since I so love to draw Stef's cartoon character in all sorts of crazy outfits... but during the flight home to Virginia, I remembered the sketch I also had of Molly - and as ANY true Star Wars fan will tell you, Jedi Knights always travel in two's. In the Star Wars Universe, one's a master while the other is the apprentice. But I wasn't thinking in those terms here. I was thinking more along the lines of Mace and Yoda - both side by side and masters in their own rights - a description that I thought fit Stef and Molly perfectly.
Besides... who could argue with two hot female Jedi Warriors kicking some serious butt and having a bunch of hapless, clueless dudes eating out of the palm of their hands????
PS: I also don't have a CLUE who that last guy is that's in a baseball hat. I really don't. Sometimes, these characters just draw themselves.
Posted Monday, May 02, 2005 7:46:57 AM by Chris Flick
What I learned at TODCON this year:
Molly Holzschlag is extremely charismatic and, through no fault of her own, has convinced me I'll never get the hang of "non-table, 100% CSS layout".
Actually, I have convinced myself I'll never be able to wrap my head around "non-table, 100% CSS layout", but I'm committed to trying nonetheless.
It's really a shame I only get to see Paul Davis (www.kaoswever.com) once a year - you better be at the next TODCON, mister! :-)
Although Las Vegas doesn't afford the same kind of "after-conference" intimacy that Orlando did last year, the best thing about TODCON (no matter WHERE it is) is going out to dinner with other web designers and just getting to know each and every one of them and just "talk shop" for hours and hours. Listening to other people's struggles (AND successes) can really recharge your battery and fill you up with so much inspiration and energy, it's really hard to put a price tag on that!
After Zumanity, I am saddened by the fact that I miss my high school "Rocky Horror Picture Show" years. You can never go home again, after all. (Siiiiigh!)
Talking with Alex (a fellow illustrator), I'm happy to realize I'm not the
only one who views CSS in two part: the first part being "kindergarten easy" and the second part being: Holly crap! This <bleeping> HARD!!!!" :-)
But Alex and I both made a pledge to do away with the "Holly crap!
This <bleeping> HARD!!!!" as best as we can - and be satisfied with
whatever we're able to accomplish. :-)
I'll never be able to watch the movie "Coyote Ugly" in the same light.
Tom cries like a little baby going on a roller coaster. :-)
The last time I saw a woman blush as much as Sheri did at Zumanity was when my high school thespian group talked my mom into going to see "Rocky Horror" because we needed an "adult" chaperone in order to get everyone in...
Murray Summer's CSS navigation session just made my life a hell of a lot easier!
Sheri's session made me realize just how much I take Dreamweaver's preferences for granted...
Kim Cavanaugh's Jumpstart session gave me confidence to realize I'm not the ONLY "artist-type" that doesn't "get" table-less designs, but that still doesn't mean I have can't create (with the help of *cough! cough!* CommunityMX - Jumpstarts) table-less web pages...
And with Jim Babbage's Fireworks masking session, it's always fun to watch a fellow artist or designer show you what/how he/she works in the same program you do. There are a LOT of things Jim and I (and even Kim for that matter) that do that are very similar. There are also some minor things we do differently as well - but we do them for different reasons - and that's always fun to experience.
Sleep is highly over-rated. Especially in Vegas.
Although I do PREFER sodas at lunchtime. :-)
After attending Stef's session on Sifr's, I think I now realize what it must have been like for that Storm trooper Commander when Obi-Wan raised his hands and said : "These are not the droids you are looking for...". What it must be like to be a non-Jedi dweeb in the presence of a great Jedi Warrior...
Either that, or I'm the fat guy in the X-wing fighter about ready to be blown up by Vader because all of his navigational systems are out of whack - Knowing no matter what you try, no matter what you do, you're STILL gonna go crashing into the Death Star no matter what! :-)
Web pictures are NEVER a good representation of what a person really looks like. And pictures can NEVER be representative of a person's personality. And, as Paul Davis said it best, you can't hug a picture! :-) Seeing and talking to the person is ALWAYS so much better and gives you a deeper, richer experience.
HEY! Not only are people READING CMX Suite, they actually are - Gulp! - ENJOYING AND LOOKING FORWARD TO IT every Tuesday! That's so good to know because, with the rare exception here and there, I hardly ever get any direct feedback for/from the strip (even though my e-mail is at the bottom of every strip).
It's especially a pleasure to know they are a big hit with the Macromedia guys too (no pressure there, right folks?). :-)
Speaking of the Macromedia guys... they are REALLY human (and funny too). You DON'T have to be intimidated by them.
I'm thinking... Maybe next year, I might even try my hand at doing one of these presentation things (by myself). Just hope someone might actually attend if I do one. :-)
Anyway, those were just my most random thoughts. Should have an enjoyable strip coming up next week. Did it on the plane back to Virginia! :-)