Strip News 1-16-9

Well, well, well. There’s more to see but I’m afraid that, due to wordpress technical issues, the remainder may require another post on Monday.incredibles_cover1_sm

  • The Daily Crosshatch reviews Fuzz and Pluck in Splitsvillee, Trouble Ticket reviews Union of Heroes, a photo comic and Marooned hits the newspaper. KODT is back online. To the right is the work of the Boom Studios cover artist for the Incredibles. Enjoy.
  • Skitzoman is moving. Update your bookmarks. Also on the move (sort of) is Asterix the Gaul.
  • Here’s a good conversation about catching your webcomic readers up to speed. And it might be useful and fun to display random comics from your archive on non-update days, wouldn’t it?
  • Comics on the web are just like recipes on cake mix boxes: Free of charge to everyone who reads them. It’s not a direct  comparison but I find it all very instructive. I see that’s important to present your best work and try new delivery methods. After all, scrolls used to be all the rage.
  • Tom has another great post; this time it’s about capturing likenesses. Likewise, John has a great read about the history of animation.
  • I remember comic covers looking different when I was younger, but I’d be hard pressed to describe how they are different. Fortunately, Yet Another Comics Blog gives us an example of an updated cover. It’s a totally different vibe.
  • Innovations abound. We artists now have Wacoms, Cintiqs and now this and but I lack the technical skills to create what I really want. I’m not talking about this gadget, nor this one but rather something simpler. Sigh.
  • If you haven’t seen Bill Willignham’s post about losing the hero part of superheroes, you should check it out. I’ve seen various reactions to it, but I applaud the basic desire to return to clear good guys and bad guys.
  • Let’s end on a fun picture of Flash Gordon – the style reminds me of Prince Valiant. I’d  like to see that comic.



  1. Have you ever actually tried a Wacom? For starters, they come with both a pen and a mouse, and you can set the pen to act like a mouse if you really want it to for some odd reason.

    Simply putting a mouseball on the end of a stick and calling it a “mouse pen” won’t work terribly well. There have been many products like that in the past but they all suck. For starters, a pen has a linear motion response, while a mouse has a bit of hidden “acceleration” underneath – there isn’t a 1:1 mapping between your hand motion and the pointer motion. (You can see what a 1:1 mapping would be like by turning off all acceleration in your mouse control panel.)

    Also, in the case of a physical mouse ball, there is a lot of slack due to imperfect friction and inertia, and in the case of an optical mouse, the conveyed motion is relative to the optical sensor, not to the physical surface you’re drawing on. You might not realize this but your pen rotates as you draw.

    A Wacom tablet, with its fixed reference point, has none of these problems. Drawing on a Wacom is just like drawing on paper, once you get past the fact you’re looking on the screen and can zoom in and out to change your precision and so on.

  2. Oh, also, most Wacoms have a tracing surface on them, where you can tuck an image you want to trace underneath so you can be sure that it doesn’t shift with respect to the fixed coordinate system. It’s not a perfect solution for tracing but it works WAY better than anything you’d get out of a “mouse pen.”

  3. Thanks for weighing in on this mouse-pen thing. The products available are unwieldy and overloaded with features I don’t want.

    I am aware of many artists that love their Wacom and you seem to enjoy yours. I’ve played around with a tablet once -briefly- but (obviously) not long enough to get comfortable with it. I found it to be more trouble than it was worth and limited in the size of the work area.

    It was a long time ago and it’s possible the settings on it were just not to my preference so it turned me off to it. Between that and the price tags for these items, I’d just prefer something else.

    A simple pen-like mouse seems like an inexpensive and flexible tool for my purposes. I’m imagining that it’s possible to shrink the size of the mouse-ball down and make other minor improvements to create a useful tool which mimics an actual pen.

  4. I think maybe you missed the part of my explanation for why a pen-like mouse probably won’t work too well for any of the use cases you described. Also, there is a physical limit to how small the mouse ball can get, because of the way that the internal motion coding mechanisms work. But even without that, there’s the issue of which angle it sees as “up.” A modern optical mouse (which you can really think of as a physical mouse with a very small ball) would have the same issue. One of the old-fashioned optical mice (with the external metal pad with the coded markings) might work, but you wouldn’t be able to use it for tracing.

    Like I said in my previous comment, there have been pen-shaped mouse-like devices on the market in the past (there were quite a few available in the mid-90s), and they’re terrible. You can’t use them like an actual pen; you have to keep your wrist perfectly straight and do all the movements with your arm, just like on a regular mouse. There’s a reason they’re not made anymore.

    The problem with Wacoms is that they are indeed rather expensive, and it really helps to have one that’s sized reasonably for the monitor (and of course the larger, the more expensive). Like, on a 24″ widescreen monitor, the 9×12″ Wacom is pretty much the minimum comfortable work size. Unfortunately, a lot of people just get the cheapest/smallest one they can afford and don’t realize the implications that has on their drawing area.

    On the plus side, you can map the tablet to only correspond to part of the screen, which can help somewhat, although not all that much. Or you can put the pen into mouse mode with 1:1 mapping (i.e. no acceleration) and just get used to never lifting the pen more than 1cm or so from the tablet.

    Also, the Wacom Bamboo line has a relatively decent size:price ratio. It’s still a lot more than $50, though, but you really have to wonder how much your time and productivity are worth to you.

    I’ve also tried some of the various Wacom knockoffs (such as Aiptek) and I really can’t recommend them. They’re very jittery and crappy and their drivers tend to suck.

    Basically, if you want to draw on the computer, the only reasonable choices are 1) use paper+pencil+scanner+a lot of cleanup or 2) suck it up and buy a Wacom.

    Now that I have a semi-decent camcorder I should record some videos of me sketching, inking, and coloring my comic. For me the process is VERY fast once I get into the groove (and my physical setup is a big part of it – just doing a “screencast” or whatever wouldn’t really convey it very well).

  5. Be sure to let me know once you have some videos up. I’m always interested to see other artist’s processes.

    There were some interesting conclusions in that link. Most preferred a mouse to pen-mice. Go figure.

  6. Yes, although, to be fair, I don’t think any of the tasks were drawing.

    Still, I’d be very surprised if any of the pen-mice available feel at all like actually using a pen. They seem to all be designed to reduce the amount of wrist pronation, not to help artists, seeing as how artists already have perfectly reasonable tools available (i.e. tablets).

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