(Originally posted April 16, 2010)

Many of you may have noticed something different about this week’s comic strip. The lines are a little sharper. The words are a little more legible. The expressions are more vivid. (The sky is a little clearer, the water’s a little bluer, the road’s a little bumpier…) This is actually the way all of my comics look on paper, but when I scan them they get a little blurry. Did I buy a better scanner? No, I am much too poor for that. I have simply switched to a larger and higher quality paper. This comic is now drawn on 14 inch bristol board (what the professionals use) then shrunk down to 800 pixels, touched up in Photoshop, and delivered straight to your internet. My comics are usually drawn with the same proportions as newspaper comics. That way, if I ever print a book, I can use the standard presets and I won’t need to pay extra for custom printing. However, I made a small error in measuring the new paper so this week’s comic and next week’s comic are a little bit taller than usual (think of it as a bonus). The following week (April 30) the comics will appear in what will be our new standard size. The lines and letters will remain clear.

Learning through trial and error is funny. I have been drawing cartoons for years now. My comics won some awards in high school (okay, it was “Honorable Mention” – happy now?) and I received a good deal of professional training in college (in both graphic arts and fine arts). I worked as a part-time animator for a number of years and read all of the standard Scott McCloud and Christopher Hart books that cartoonists are supposed to read. What is surprising is how many new things I have learned in just a few months of running this site. Was my previous education worthless? Absolutely not! But there are a good many things that are taught better by experience. And different kinds of experiences bring different lessons.

If you are an artist then you probably should practice until you are ready to go public, but don’t waste your time polishing your art until it’s perfect. There is something different about making art just for yourself and preparing art for a larger audience. And you will never learn exactly how to prepare presentable artworks unless you try it out and make adjustments as you go. If you spend too many years creating art in a vacuum, then you will end up disappointing yourself.

Whew, that was a preachy one. Anyway, enjoy the new style.

-Marj