Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vivid Side Notes: Parting Clays.

Sometimes when you make art, you’re really attached to it.  But when years go by and you improve as an artist, that feeling starts to fade a bit.

While selling sculpted animal figures at local art shows, I amassed a small collection of my own, nearly ten years ago.  Rather then store them in boxes in the closet, I think it’s time to pass them on to people who’d appreciate them.

The closet critters can be found on Etsy here:

Thanks for looking!  -Liz

Thursday, May 8, 2014


UberQuest, 3 Keys to Huge Projects, and more.
Motor City Furry Con was a blast- special thanks to Kiaran for his fun Dreamkeepers panel, and thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello! Thanks as well to Mobile, for the first ever Namah Cosplay he put together.

I just hosted the latest V4 Sneak Peek- "3 Keys to Huge Projects." I'm not sure how advice contaminated my updates, but there it is. Do you guys like this sort of thing in the Sneak Peeks, or have any topics that you would like to hear more about?
Speaking of more, new Dreamkeepers reviews are up!
One from a reader:
And one from artist Skidd:
Speaking of, it turns out he and Phsuke are launching their own series, so I decided to return the favor and review UberQuest.
I'm rather new to reviewing the work of others, so let me know what you think, and where I can improve.
Last note for this update- we're hosting a new vote incentive for May at TopWebcomics, I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to check out the current updates as we kick off the first ever Bast Prelude arc.
'Til next time!

Friday, May 2, 2014

UberQuest Review

Skidd was kind enough to review Dreamkeepers recently.  As it happens, he and his wife Phsuke are kicking off their own webcomic, so I thought I'd return the favor.

Without further ado, here's my review of UberQuest!

Right out of the gate, it's in trouble.

The parody / gaming genre isn't usually my cup of tea, so UberQuest has it's work cut out.

Why does my personal taste skew away from this genre to begin with?  The main reason is that these comics tend to be derivative.  First something earnest and unique has to come along and break new ground.  Only then can others ride in the wake, poking fun and developing commentary about what they find.
That's not inherently bad.  Parody can be entertaining and insightful- but it's always the remora, one step removed from primacy, unable to exist independent of its references.  So though fun, it never captures my imagination entirely.

With this mindset I started reading UberQuest- and found a delightful counterpoint to my expectations.

What makes UberQuest better?  At the core, it's the focus.   It is a gaming / rpg genre comic, but that's not what it's *about*.  That's simply the setting, the wallpaper for what really matters.  And it looks like what really matters in UberQuest is going to be character.

They're more than just types- Fighter, Mage, etc.  Most rpg-genre comics stop there, but it's the tip of the iceberg for UberQuest.  Even though the comic is young and has a lot of fun, there are hints of depth and intricacy to the personalities.  We're going to be treated to a comic that's not populated by roaming one-liners.  It's going to be populated by emotive characters with desires, fears, conflicts, and sharp objects.  Characters that I can care about- which is what draws me to fiction.

In short, there's a beating heart within this comic.  And that's going to make all the references, jokes, battles, and illustrations surrounding it all the more enjoyable and relevant.

And speaking of the art- we're in for a good ride.  It's stellar.

Most comics have an awkward youth- but Skidd and Phsuke come from an accomplished background as online artists, and it shows.

Excellently  drawn characters- cartoonish yet solid, tangible emoting, striking that balance of detail that evokes thoughts of animation.    And the backgrounds are nice too- detailed and layered when appropriate, lushly unobtrusive when our focus needs to be elsewhere.  It hits that note of cartoony yet real which I find difficult to resist.

Most comic creators seem to improve as they go- if that trend holds for UberQuest, then there's nowhere to go but awesome.

If you like rpg-genre fiction and comics, check them out.  If you aren't a fan of the genre, this might be the exception worth enjoying.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

V4 Sneak Peek #7: 3 Keys to Huge Projects

We're drawing the final chapter of Volume 4.  I finished page 15 of Chapter 12 yesterday- which is page 84 of the book as a whole.

And there are still over 30 pages to draw- egads.

Stopping to think about it, the effort required seems almost overwhelming.  Even when Volume 4 is completed, we still have the rest of the series to tackle- years upon years of work.  How do we do it?  When you're in the midst of a long term project, how do you stay on track and keep from getting burned out?

There are a 3 keys to staying productive, and staying sane, in the midst of titanic workloads.

Key 1:  Love work.  

It's not enough to like the *idea* of having a story.  Everybody does that.  But the ones who pull through in the end are the ones who actually enjoy the work itself.  Because that's the real payoff.  Doing, not having.  It's not enough to want a finished book, to want the result.  The mountain climber standing at the summit isn't the one who wanted badly to be at the top- it's the one who loved to climb.  

Key 2:  Do One Thing.  

Effective multi-tasking is a fantasy.  If I have e-mails to answer, art account messages, accounting work, inventory to package, updates to write, and a book to make, one of those must be the Most Important Thing.  Determine what the Most Important Thing is, and get it done.  Note that it needs to be specific.  "Finish Volume 4" can be my priority, but I can't sit down in a day or two and "Finish Volume 4."  That's not a task, it's a goal.  Break goals into incremental stages until you have a doable, finishable set of tasks.  Then do the most important one.
And relax- because, while you're working on it, that task is your sole concern.  You're not doing other things at that moment- so why waste focus on them?  You only have one thing in the world to worry about, so ease up and get rolling.  Doesn't that feel nice?  

Key 3: Balance.

All-nighters are for arbitrary college deadlines on assignments that are only worth a letter grade.  In reality, working efficiently over the long term requires balance.  An all-nighter gives you a few hours of extra work one day, and then robs you of effective function for the next two.  To work effectively you need to be alert, attentive, comfortable- in a word, healthy.  Get balanced meals, sleep at night, take brief breaks to stretch and exercise.  Maintain yourself, because if you really want to complete your project, you need to retain the capacity to work efficiently, indefinitely.

Getting rest and staying healthy is easier said than done, but at least don't deliberately burn yourself out under the delusion that it's helpful.

Another thing that has helped us specifically- our incredible freelancers.  The color blocking is coming right along.  Because of their help, I can focus on pencils and then skip right to shading this summer.  Thanks you guys, you are absolutely amazing!

And what kind of Sneak Peek would this be without a few drawings?

Enjoy, and we'll see you for the next update!