Max and Mouse – A Comic Strip

In the last couple of weeks, while I’ve been resting, I’ve read a couple of excellent books about comics written by a guy called Scott McCloud.

These books are currently used in undergraduate sequential art courses and I can see why! They are brilliant! (Sequential Art is just a posh word for comics, graphic novels and any other combination of words and pictures which carry a narrative.)

I was working my way through the second book “Making Comics” when I saw an exercise Scott put into the notes sections for the first chapter…

McCloud, S. (2006) Making comics. 1st edn. New York: Harper Collins

This looked like wonderful fun! I picked the mini-plot about the dogs…

“Dog eats dog, dog burps, dog figure skates”

I began with 6 boxes…

Then I hashed out a very quick initial version of my comic strip…

Initially I planned for the Figure Skating panel at the end to tie in to the name of the strip and of the two dogs who I called Torvil and Dean after the world class figure skaters of the same names. I still remember their World Figure Skating “Barnum” performance in 1983 where they were scored a perfect 6.0 from the judges of every country. It was just a fabulous dance.

The third section of the dance still brings me out in goosebumps. I think it’s the way their dance perfectly captured the spirit of the music and the hearts of the audience at the same time. The audience begin to clap and you can just feel the joy of the moment reverberating around the stadium.

However, when I showed my mock up to my son, he had no idea who Torvil and Dean are, so the joke fell flat. I knew I was going to have to rework the art anyway so I thought I’d find a way to rework the joke too. I began with the line art…

Once I had my joke and line art finalised I then added some greyscale tones to increase the clarity and give the stip some more visual interest. I did the foreground first…

…and then the background…

Finally I tried to bring my image into Photoshop (PS) to finalise the tones and balance the whole thing out, but PS failed! I use Photoshop 6.0. It’s too expensive for me to use Photoshop Creative Cloud since the payments go on indefinitely and are way too expensive. It feels like catch 22 sometimes because I can’t get a job using PS (despite working with it since 1996 back when it was PS 4.0) unless I am up to date with PS Creative Cloud and I can’t afford PS Creative Cloud until I have a job!

Anyway, after some investigation it turns out that the new update to Windows 10 has permanently taken away my ability to use Photoshop 6.0 – so that software is simply not available to me anymore. It was a real blow. Fortunately though I also have Manga Studio 5.0. I was able to get this updated to Clip Studio Pro (the new version with a name change) and I have been learning how to use this newer software. It’s actually excellent and can do all of the everyday stuff which PS can do, plus the user interface is much much better! So, after a bit of installing and faffing about with the new way of doing things I got my image finalised – phew!

PS: Then I went to put up this post only to find that WordPress have now closed the loophole I was using to use the Classic Editor! So I had another new system to learn! It seems to be the way of things at the moment – a new year, new flowers, new software! I’m just going to go with it. 🙂

Here’s the final comic strip…

9 thoughts on “Max and Mouse – A Comic Strip

  1. I can’t disagree with anything you say here, it all chimes with my experience. I too work with an Android device (a phone rather than a tablet) and I’m not finding the layout easy — it’s mostly a case of trial and error, and I occasionally slip back to using the Classic Editor while I still have it available.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks – I’m glad it works for you!

    With respect to the block editor – I agree. I also work on my blog using 2 devices – a laptop and an Android tablet. It’s the switching between the two which is the trickiest thing for me. The Android user interface, in particular, is not easy to work with at all.

    I find change difficult too, especially unmanaged change which is just dropped on me from on high. This is how the block editor seemed to me when it was first rolled out. An email head’s up about it a couple of week before would have been really helpful.

    I’m not finding it that hard to use teh new editor, now I’m actually forced to use it. In overall design it requires exactly the same sort of thinking I use when writing web pages in HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets and Javascript. That’s OK for me, but what about all of the thousands of people who use WordPress and don’t have web design skills? Surely the point of WP is to provide a way for non-technical people to write blogs and websites without having to learn all of that? I think that’s why the classic editor was so good – it gave the user more of a word processor feel which is familiar to a lot of folk. I guess it just shows that even big companies aren’t always able (or willing?) to know their customer’s point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good for you – learning the new editor!

    I’m really glad Torvil/Mouse made you laugh! When I was growing up we had two gun dogs (Springer Spaniel and Labrador) who were big and strong. But my mother bred Yorkshire Terriers, so we had a breeding pair of them too. The small female Yorkie was the one who ruled the roost. The bigger dogs would start to play and rough house with her but as soon as they did someting she didn’t like she would go for them and they would run! It was always funny to see two large dogs chased off by a tiny little female!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad things are going well! You did mention that your trainer had sadly died. I’m sorry you had a loss like that. It sounds like she’s given you a really good basis for your riding. Great that you know another trainer too and that she can put your horse through her paces so that she has more than one person riding with her!


  5. I’m so sorry about the Photoshop issues! Having to deal with that and the new editor on WordPress at the same time seems super frustrating. And I’m with you on the new editor :/. I’m doing my best to learn it because I love blogging too much to let this change take it from me but I absolutely preferred how it was before, too.

    However, on the happy/fun side of things, I laughed out loud at your second-to-last panel when Torvil-then-Mouse hits Dean-then-Max! It was completely unexpected and it really made me laugh. I’m still chuckling :D. So thank you for the smile and thank you for the laughs in my day!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jo–yes, the stables have now become quite “stable”! Management hired one of our own boarders with a lot of experience to replace the first barn manager who didn’t work out. Since we already knew the replacement there was a minimum period of adjustment. Management is also making quite a few welcome improvements to the property, so that’s good too. The only thing missing is my trainer–I don’t know if I mentioned she died in October. Anyhow, she gave me a great training foundation to work with, so I will be all right for a while. My horse’s former owner is also a trainer at the barn, and I have her ride my horse once a week just to get her mind used to a little variety instead of the same old thing from me all the time!😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think Adobe are greedier than they need to be too. I’m surprised WordPress didn’t work with Chrome – that must have been a real pain. I’m glad you got it going with Firefox – that’s the browser I use too.

    Also, I just wondered how things are going with your training stables now? We chatted about it quite a while ago. Are things settling down now?

    All the very best,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As always, excellent work propelled by wonderful imagination. I also totally get the Photoshop/job Catch-22. Need one to get the other and vice versa. I personally think Adobe is greedier than necessary in their money management of their product. They seem to think that everyone who uses it is a well-paid professional. WordPress also did a number on me this week with the block editor. I had to switch browsers to get it to work. It kept telling me that I wasn’t permitted to edit my own blog, and wouldn’t save anything! Out with Chrome in with Firefox and it worked quite nicely!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You final version works really well — I had reservations before then about the speech bubble design, for example, but you ironed all that out by the end, despite the difficulties you mention.

    As for the block editor I’ve started using that for one or two posts before the classic editor option is removed from my blogs: it’s not as fiddly as I’d first thought but as I work from both my laptop and via the WP phone app navigating between one and the other isn’t a walk in the park — yet. I commented on a WordPress post that some autistics like me really are upset by sudden change, especially when it requires new habits as well as unfamiliarity, but no response was forthcoming.

    Liked by 1 person

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