2018: Longterm Conclusions and Beginnings

From 2006 until 2016, I kept a blog on Blogger (formerly Blogspot) called An Illustrative Journal, which always featured a summative annual report of sorts on New Year’s Eve. With your permission, I’d like to continue that tradition here, though in perhaps a less lengthy manner.

Regardless of what you might read about the year 2018 on social media, personally, I had a great year! It was a year that saw the conclusion of a number of longterm projects and, cherished though they were, with their completion is space for still more projects that have been on the back burner of my mind or sketchbook for years (in one instance - a decade).

Through my experience with high school theatre productions, I discovered that I have somewhat of an intense and consuming creative process. I directed my first play in 2010 and went on to direct 14 more productions in the ensuing eight years. It actually makes my head spin to think about it because 10 of those productions were within a three year period. Directing was a blast and not something that I had ever thought I’d do (let alone be good at) but it came at a considerable cost to my health and family so in 2016, I decided that I would retire from it — in two years. This year!

In February, I said farewell to high school theatre with a group of seniors with whom I had the good fortune of directing four for years with an original adaptation that I penned of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was set in a retirement home (high school seniors and a retiring director… not very subtle is it?) Though the script has a lot of comedy, it’s actually very sweet and heartbreaking. Even though the last year of the My Guardian Grandpa comic strip was emotionally devastating, a printed comic can never have the impact of live theatre. I’ve written six plays and with those plays, I’ve made a lot of people laugh but Old Pride & Prejudice is the only entertainment piece I’ve written that has made an audience actually cry.

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Speaking of My Guardian Grandpa, the fourth and final book compilation of the comic strip series was finally published in March. My Guardian Grandpa Volume IV: In Their Day features strips that were published in the newspaper from May 2014 - July 2015 so this book has been a long time coming. Thanks to the intervening years, in the preparation of the book, I was able to experience the strips more as readers do since I had forgotten many of the strips and storylines. I also realized how much I miss those characters.

In January, I began work on an animated teaser trailer to promote the book. The animation is in the coloring phase of post production and has had to take a back seat to more urgent projects but it should be completed soon. Check out the pencil test below.

Last year, we began writing single panel cartoons and submitting them to magazines. Of the first 20 that we sent out, we sold our first cartoon to The American Legion Magazine and it ran in the November issue.

July was devoted entirely to producing a hand-drawn short called Understand THIS! featuring the characters Buddy and Romeo from the Mates and Dates comic series by Some Miracle. The short was a finalist in the inaugural GoComics Short Shorts Animation Contest in September.

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Just before Thanksgiving, due to budgetary constraints, I was laid off from the newspaper at which I had been self-syndicating daily comic strips since August 2011. In that time, I was fortunate to entertain readers with three comic strips series: My Guardian Grandpa, which ran from August 2011 to July 2015; its spin off series Courting Kendall Parker which ran in August 2015 as an intermission or thematic transitional piece of sorts; and Mates and Dates from August 2015 to November 2018.

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After seven years of unrelenting weekly deadlines, I’m now free to focus on other projects, which have been dormant in my sketchbook for years. This evening, I finally submitted a collection of greeting cards that Julie and I wrote back in 2012. I’m glad I learned how to draw and paint in the intervening years because they would not have turned out as good back then. In each of the annual year end blog posts at An Illustrative Journal I promised that the collection would be completed the following year. This time, I can safely say that the cards will be available for purchase next Christmas through a yet-to-be-determined outlet.

Finally, this afternoon, I went to the gym for one of my New Year’s resolutions. I tapped the counter and said “I’m here for my New Year’s resolution! This year I’m going to save $150!” As the desk clerk readied his clipboard, I said “No, no. I'm already a member. I’ve been a member since 2004. I’m canceling my membership!” Ha! I love that gym, but a 25 minute drive versus a four second walk into the cellar is a no brainer.

The best movie I saw this year was Ingrid Goes West and we started watching Riverdale, which is surprisingly awesome. Also, if you haven’t already watched The Great British Baking Show, do so.

These are the songs that defined my year:

Iguana Bird by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson

Only Yesterday by Taken by Trees

Tell Your Mama by Scissor Sisters

Strange Boy by The Shacks

and

Hey Pretty Girl by Kip Moore

Here’s your 2019 preview…

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Let’s go, 2019.

See you in the funny papers.

Nathan

A Place for Process...

It’s been a number of years since I phased out the illustration blog in favor of other social media platforms, but I have missed the opportunity to share artistic process and philosophy in a longer — and more elegant — form right here on my website.

In a recent interview with GoComics, which you can find here, I was asked about my five-year-plan. The last plan I’d written was in 2015, so a re-evaluation was beneficial. It was interesting to note which of these predictions and goals have come to fruition, which were scrapped, and which are still works in progress.

As usual, I have a lot of irons in the fire, and sometimes projects are developed over the span of years by their nature or as other assignments with more urgent deadlines present themselves. While I’ll keep the specifics of my five-year-plan close to the vest, here are some of the projects that I’m currently working on…

  • ANIMATION: My Guardian Grandpa Volume IV: In Their Day trailer post-production

  • ANIMATION: Untitled Buddy and Romeo Short pre-production

  • ANIMATION: Dinner! With Lloyd and His Voices pre-production

  • WRITING: Untitled Satirical Children’s Book working draft/pre-vis

  • WRITING: Untitled Children’s Book early drafts

Then there are, of course, always weekly deadlines for our daily comic strip and quarterly magazine cartoon submissions. That’s all for details now but I look forward to sharing more behind-the-scenes posts here again soon.

See you in the funny papers.

Nathan