Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Hi folks,

It's about time I did this, I guess. I'm just setting up a blog account to start posting various images, links, tidbits and occasional rants. A place I can direct people to for samples of my work. 

As I write this, I'm pretty much unknown to the world. I have a few clips posted on YouTube and Vimeo, and I still get comments now and then on the YouTube ones (especially the one I took down, "Shake Your Betty", but that's another post). I also have a weekly cartoon panel in some local NY/NJ/PA papers in an "artist for hire" capacity. I've been highly successful at avoiding reaching any heights so far. I'm one of the many artists out there that wince a little inside every time they describe themselves as "artists", mostly because they don't make a living as artists. 

   I've sat on the sidelines, watching the various marketplaces for the careers I've wanted, often warned off by the stories told by the people in those fields. There's been a few. Cartooning always seemed to be the lead, but has shuffled around with music, painting, photography, video, sculpture, even puppet making. If they're all added up, they point toward animated cartoons, which was the original goal, going back the farthest to childhood dreams.

   It was also the first thing I counted myself out of, as I couldn't afford to set myself up for animating on film. By the time I was old enough to consider venturing out into the business, the state of affairs seemed so bleak I could never convince myself to try. Why attempt to uproot myself across the country to try to break into the kind of stuff being produced in 1980? It was disheartening to say the least. Add in a family needing to "pull together to survive" kind of dynamic and it makes it hard to justify placing your bets on pipe dreams.

  I kept as busy as I could with all the other pursuits, each one also eventually shot down by perception that breaking into the biz was harder than stuffing an elephant into a sandwich bag. By the time glimmers of hope returned to the animation world (usually courtesy of John K, who had the tenacity to swim upstream against the crap that scared me off and bring it back for a while), I felt nearly trapped in the cycle working for a living, living for a-working.

  About a year after getting my first computer (one of the last egg-shaped iMacs  models) I tried a trial of Flash. As with everything else, I taught myself bit by bit, eventually realizing it had the potential to produce full enough animation to finally allow me to step into the ring. Sure, it's derided plenty as robotic, mechanical "rich content creation", but the fact is, you can ignore all the automation and use enough keyframes to do real animation. If you're going to video, file sizes shouldn't be an issue. All that tweening and faking it with cutout puppets that gives Flash its reputation are either a product of conservation for file size or laziness. I've road tested it enough to know that even if you had to create a separate file for each scene of a cartoon, you can do full animation. 

   If you have the time, that is. I wish I had more, but it's nights and weekends for me. So the progress is slower than I'd like. It's taken several years to get a decent skill set, and finally getting a more powerful computer and newer version of Flash have certainly helped.

  Right now, I'm in the process of going through the first full cartoon I started in 2002 and reworking it to bring it up to my current standards. I started it with the small-file-size Flash player mode in mind, so a lot of things were left simple. It's now getting an overhaul to try to take a lot of the "Flashness" out of it. The backgrounds are largely being dropped to be replaced with better ones in After Effects. 

  The biggest time consumer outside of adding more key poses and replacing many of the existing ones is cleaning up the artwork. All the original art was scanned in from a comic of the story (because I figured doing things ass-backwards would be a suitable ill-informed thing to do at the time). I didn't have a tablet at the time, so I was ill prepared to iron out all the kinks Flash puts in the lines. I fixed the worst of them, but just couldn't take the time the get all the little jagged bastards out. 

  Now everything is getting cleaned up or replaced outright with smoother lines, more and better thought out inbetweens, and new compostions. I hope to turn it into a model of what further episodes should look like, so it can stand along with them instead of being an early curiosity. I'll be posting some examples of the makeover here to illustrate how it's changing.

  That's more than enough for a first post, I think. Now to ready some images for those examples...



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