Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zander's 24-Hour Comic Online!

I'm not quite as on-the-ball as Kevin is, but here's my 24-hour comic, The Caterpillar Space Force of Robots, in glorious black and white.

I do 24-hour comics as close to the original concept as I possibly can: I don't plan out what the story will be beforehand, write anything, or design characters. Partly this is to stick to the rules; partly it's to keep me (and others) from having high expectations for the story.

At the starting bell, I draw a Pictionary card from the box and use the five words that are on it to launch the story. Sometimes I do know what kind of story I want to tell, (this year I wanted to do a space adventure story) and that does help focus my efforts, but I never think about characters or plot until I draw that card.

This year's comic was pretty grueling compared to previous years, in that I had no idea where the story was going from page to page. I was almost halfway through before I had any ideas of how to conclude it, and so I was not that amped about the story anyway. Reading it now, it's not that bad. Kind of funny. Pretty random.

The Pictionary Card words were:


Enjoy! Click on image below to start the madness:

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Shanksizer! -- Naturalized Handwriting Font Tool

A few weeks ago I was complaining to Mr. Stwalley about a special problem I have. You see, using Todd Klein's great book, "DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics," I developed a couple of fonts of my handwriting. Each font has two sets of alphabets -- one set as uppercase and one set as lowercase. Each set is exactly the same (roman, bold, etc), except that they have very subtle "writerly" differences.

The biggest problem with handwriting fonts is that they're easy to pick out as computerized when you see two of the same letters next to each other. Having just a subtle difference in the way the same letter is written helps trick the reader's mind into thinking that a line of text is ACTUALLY hand-lettered, when really it's not.

Getting back to my PROBLEM: Right now I have to manually differentiate between upper- and lowercase letters to make my fonts look authentic. Currently, "balLoOn" has to typed out by hand. That takes time. Time I don't have. So I was complaining to Mr. Stwalley about how I wished there was a simple Flash program to do the work for me.

So today he surprises me with "The Shanksizer" -- a fun and simple way to alternate your caps! Drop in a block of "normal" text, hit the fish, and out comes your text with alternating text! Of course, the best part is that it's a fun tool to play with even if you don't give a hoot about the problems associated with naturalized handwriting fonts. And if you hate fish.

Click below to play with The Shanksizer:

Note: Concurrently, BTA and PUNY are working on a similar program aimed at professional letterers who deal with naturalized handwriting fonts on a daily basis.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Here's my story from this weekend's 24 Hour Comic Day:

You can read all about the Minneapolis event and see photos of the artists and work in progress at


Friday, October 19, 2007

Orville Redenbacher 2 Minute Pick-Me-Ups

We recently produced some illustrations for Orville Redenbacher's website. You can check them out here ("Milk Jugs" is our favorite):

Recognize that guy? Yep, it's Line Art Zander. The illustrations were drawn over photographs in Adobe Illustrator and then imported into Flash. Zander drew the counter in Google's "Sketch-Up" -- hopefully he'll write about his love for that program in the future.

The interactivity and concept was handled by Steven Stwalley and Olson.

24 Hour Day is 24 Hours Away!

Zander says that the sleep you get two nights before the event is the sleep that really counts, so I forced myself to go to bed at 10pm last night (an unthinkable feat). Fortunately I'm housesitting for my parents in their soundproof suburban home, so I didn't have to contend with the always-loud-until-midnight Yelly McDrunkersons who live in the apartment directly below me in Uptown. Anyway, here's a banner for you:

Also, if you're looking for some pre-game advice, Mr. Steinlicht asked me to jot down my tips, and they are available here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

24 Hour Comics Day This Weekend!

The marathon of marathons starts this Saturday at 10am. Danno thinks there may be a record number of participants -- 100 weary souls if you count both the Book Arts site and the MCAD site.

David Steinlicht has graciously volunteered to blog the event here.

While this means great blog coverage, it also means that the Minneapolis community will be All Small-less this year. Thanks for taking one for the team, Mr. Steinlicht.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Far Arden: Chapter Twelve

Uh ... please ignore anything I wrote about Far Arden on this blog over the past week and enjoy chapter twelve.

While there are still two chapters to go, this chapter fulfills my challenge from Mr. Steven Stwalley to complete a 288 hour comic book. The book actually stands at 290 pages right now due to a lengthy chapter eleven. So thanks for the prodding and cajoling, Steve!

Read Chapter Twelve.
Start from the beginning.

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The FallCon Digest

Holy Smokes, Steven Stwalley has the best FallCon post you ever did see. He goes around and profiles all of the Cartoonist Conspirators at last weekend's show, which for some of you may mean putting a face to a name for the first time. For me Steve's post is a kick-in-the-groin reminder that next year I need to wander around with a fist full of cash and buy tons of the great stuff on sale (like Danno originals).


Friday, October 12, 2007

Twin Cities Book Festival Today 10am - 5pm

Come check us out in the MCTC cafeteria (pictured below). We'll have a table ... Big Brain will have a table ... Zak Sally will have a table ....

It'll be a scream.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

History Maker Bio Illustrations

Last summer we illustrated six books for Lerner Publication's History Maker Bio series. These biographies are aimed at elementary and middle schoolers, but also sit well with twenty-somethings, as I can attest to. Fittingly, the series of books we were involved with were all about company founders (see the list below).

A big part of our job was trying to match the previous artist's style, which meant doing drawings that were a little looser and a little more painterly than we were used to. The illustrations were drawn as line art on paper, then scanned in and painted using a low-opacity brush in Photoshop (using a wacom tablet).

We haven't received our comp copies yet, so I'm still not sure how the actual printing turned out. Hopefully we'll have some copies for the Twin Cities Book Festival this Saturday!

There are roughly 800 History Maker Bios out there, but here are the ones Big Time Attic illustrated:

Juliette Low
Henry Ford
Levi Strauss
Madame C. J. Walker
John Deere
William Kellogg

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

FallCon 2007 Photos

FallCon -- Minnesota's big two-day comic book convention -- was this past weekend. Once again I managed to spend the entire weekend within a ten-foot radius of the booth, a sad fact which is reflected in the photos below. Zander spent a good deal of time exploring the con, so maybe he'll post some of his thoughts on FallCon.

FallCon is hosted by MNCBA and is located on the State Fair Grounds in the Education building

Here're the guts of our table. The humidity curled made most of our books and originals curl, but not too badly

Sorry about the glare, Steven Stwalley. Your suit radiated 100% of the light that hit it. Steve is sporting the highlight of FallCon: the fez

Zander and I sat next to the Ha brothers, Donn and Gene

Here's Donn sketching Danno's character Fleming Hazmat

Gene drew a ton of great sketches during the con, and scanned a bunch of them for his blog

Tim Sievert and Brett von Schlosser

Tim Sievert

A sampling of Brett's spooktacular paintings and prints

Tim's hand-sewn Kanary Kid dolls

Matthew Kriske

I was able to trade Kriske of sketch of some penguins for this gem, a janus-esque portrait on watercolor- and tea-stained paper:

I'm kicking myself for not taking photos of the awesome "lounge" set up by the Cartoonist Conspiracy, including BTA's very own Todd Oldham polka dot sofa. Maybe Tim got some photos with that fancy camera of his.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

FallCon Happening ... Right Now!

All the action is at FallCon this weekend. So bring a can of soup and join the party:


Monday, October 01, 2007

Clarence Thrun in The Rake

Pick up a copy of the October 2007 Rake for a profile of Big Brain Comics' Clarence Thrun.