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Bright and early in the morning…

8 Oct

By Ayo

A friend whose name is redacted sent me a snide message on Facebook:


To keep my wheels turning, I ask the good citizens of tumblr to use the “ask box” feature to give me questions. These questions are generally fantastic.

Please feel free to ask me questions any time:

For reference, I live and work in New York City. I do most of my writing on my smartphone. That’s the life that I lead. I write lots of the material for Comix Cube and for my tumblr blog while riding the train or while walking down the street. I have excellent peripheral vision.

So now that I’ve cleared that up, on with the show. The following quote is a question (or an “ask”) that an anonymous tumblr user sent to me. After the quote is my response. For reference, my train to work actually got stalled so I had a lot more time than usual to write. Here we go:

“Where do you think the line of not working hard enough exists for an artist? Going to college, having a job, and various social obligations really takes up my time and energy so when the end of the day comes along I just sleep or draw weak-looking sketches. Then I remember other artists make sure to finish a picture a week along with studies everyday and I feel lazy in comparison.”

If I can convince artists of nothing else, I hope to show people: draw in the morning. You will fail at night. You will not succeed at making things in the night. Here’s why.

When you wake up in the morning after an appropriate amount of sleep, your body is refreshed, recharged, renewed. Your ideas are fresher, your troubles are calmed, you are simply healthier in body and mind.

But that’s not the main advantage!

During the course of a day, any given day, your life’s activities and pressures and stressors will gather and accumulate. When you go to work or go to class or go to meet your friends or just sit in your room, things happen which add to your responsibilities, obligations and stresses.

Example: you want to draw at night. You go to class at school and have a difficult time with a quiz. You know you’ve bombed it and you just feel down all day.

Example: you want to draw at night. You get a text message from your significant other that says “We Need To Talk.”

Example: you want to draw at night. But it’s game night and you want to hang out with your friends! And you should.

Example: you want to draw at night. Before you can get settled in, your manager calls in a panic because the closing shift person quit unexpectedly.

Example: you want to draw at night. Nothing bad has happened to you all day but you are just exhausted! You have school and/or a job and/or friends and/or that news report has absorbed your attention and/or your significant other ❤ and/or you've been on your feet all day and/or you're Just Tired and/or you need to buy groceries and/or it's your turn to make dinner and/or your out-of-touch friend called you out of the blue and you're reminiscing and/or You Just Don't Want To!

Give up on the night. You know what I'm doing tonight? Probably not drawing! I think I'll have dinner with a friend or go on a coffee date or try to catch up on television or read one of the graphic novels on my stack of books or read one of the prose books that I've been avoiding. I don't feel any urgency to draw tonight.

I did my day's drawing before 8:05am. I'm off-duty.

"I'm not a morning person!"

So what? Make yourself into a morning person. Retrain your mind. Retrain your body. You're a human being, you're adaptable. Set your alarm earlier and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Leave the night life to the people who don't have stuff to do.

Now, then:

You want to draw a picture per week? It ain't a prob at all, my friend! Here's your schedule. Change the details based on what your details are. I work a 9-to-5 job. Forty hours per week, Monday through Friday.

Monday morning: sketch. Doodle. Just scribble in your sketchbook or copy pictures from magazines.

Tuesday morning: looking over your sketches from Monday, you have some ideas forming. Do some thumbnail layouts and practice the picture composition.

Wednesday morning: by now you are selecting your final composition and perhaps doing a basic sketch on the final paper or canvas or computer document (don't forget to save)

Thursday morning: pick up where you left off and keep drawing your final document.

Friday morning: you're almost there!

Saturday (whatever is closest to a day off for you) : FINISH IT!!!!

Sunday (assuming that you have two consecutive days off or with a lighter workload) : lay loose. Chill out and go hang out with your friends. Teach yourself to dance or go on a bike ride. Gather your strength to resume the cycle…

Monday morning: et cetera…

Get it? Got it? Good!!


Chicago Zine Fest 2012

29 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Chicago Zine Fest 2012

Aloha my dear friends. It’s convention season again, which as far as this year is looking, basically means from now until 2013 I will be going to comics shows. I did miss the excitement in the two months I had off. One of the goals I had made for myself last year was to expand the range of shows I exhibited at, with a focus on the more indie-aimed shows. So in this spirit, the first show of the year is the Chicago Zine Fest, an amazing exhibition celebrating the aspects of this game that mean the most to me – self publishing and Doing It Yourself.

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6 Jan
By Darryl Ayo

Your influences will pass through you like roughage. Whether you’re a novice artist or a wizened veteran, you will become absorbed in the work of somebody else and occasionally you may fear that this influence is having too strong an effect on your thinking. There is no need to cut yourself off from it, however. Drink deeply of the well of inspiration and it will pass.

Indulge yourself. Allow yourself to go through phases. They will pass. When the mood leaves you, what is left will be the traces of influence. In this way, you will advance your craft and your understanding of your medium.

Eventually, it all becomes a part of the matrix of ideas and thoughts that comprise you. So you will be able to embrace it all at once: personal identity as well as the building blocks which helped create you.

Influences and Process — The Books, Automatism, and the Infinite Everything

19 Dec
by L. Nichols

Disclaimer: I have a cold. I am feeling a little loopy and am only functioning at about 80%. Bear with me as I try to talk about things that even at 100% I am not good at talking about.

Behold the finite set of thirteen convex figures. The irrational sine versus tangent 45. – The Books, Beautiful People

With lyrics like that, I guess it might not be such a surprise that The Books are one of my favorite bands.

The Books are one of the few bands I can get completely lost in listening to. I love to put on my headphones, pick one of their albums and just go for a walk. Or I will put on their music when I am working, particularly when I am painting. For years now, this has been the case. The Books are music I live with when I am alone, when I am with my thoughts and with my work.

Every time I listen to them, I find new things. I find new sounds. I find new thoughts. With their constant presence in my life The Books have shaped my thoughts over the years.

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Origin Story.

2 Dec
By Darryl Ayo

According to my calculations, I read my first comic in the summer of 1987. The Sunday newspaper was laying flat on the radiator in the kitchen and my mother stood over my shoulder and read this aloud with voices:

Thanks mom!

I was born in 1981. So for many people my age, I was just about Calvin’s age when Bill Watterson started Calvin and Hobbes in 1986. And like many people my age, I fought back nostalgic sniffles on December 31, 1995 when Calvin and Hobbes took their final sled ride.

I haven’t seen the above strip in years, friends. Today (Thursday, December 1st 2011), I finally discovered which volume  of the black-and-white collections that this particular strip was compiled in and I promptly purchased that book. Whenever possible, I think we all owe it to ourselves to look our origins right in the face. Everything I’ve worked for, everything I’ve been striving to do all my life stems from this strip–and moreover, stems from the direct memory of my mother showing me something that she thought was really cool.

A lot of people don’t really understand my need to talk about and discuss comics. Since comics are printed literature, many would prefer to read and absorb the work privately. For me, the discovery of comics was very tied in with the idea of a shared experience and even performance (since my mother loves to read things dramatically). Comics, at their best, are an integrated part of a wider cultural experience; no different from films or novels or music.

For me, comics have always been a something one shares–as well as part of a larger tapestry of daily experiences. Now…how about them Yankees?



17 Nov
By Darryl Ayo

You read the same blogs day in and day out. You follow the same webcomics for months and years on end. You need an injection of fresh inspiration; a change in diet. Here’s a sizable meal of Tumblr blogs that might get your brain open.

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Save Comics.

25 Jul
By Darryl Ayo

Comics can never die, so they can’t be in need of saving. This article is specifically about the North American comic book paradigm, particularly as created for, and distributed by, the Direct Market. Before you read further, I have no qualifications. I am just a person with a laptop.

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Where in Hell

25 May
by Kevin Czap

Matt Groening Life in Hell

I’ll admit, I had another idea for a post but some last minute research toppled the whole premise. Looking through my bookshelf in a panic, I landed on my Life in Hell books. If nothing else, this post is intended to help keep Matt Groening’s old strip in our public consciousness. It’s easy to forget about this stuff, in the wake of the Simpson‘s franchisement, but Groening is a great comics artist first and foremost. If for no other reason, he should be celebrated forever for creating Akbar and Jeff. Continue reading


4 May
by Kevin Czap


So my Cube compatriots here were all talking about sketching and process over twitter sometime last week, and Darryl had the good idea of devoting time to write on the subject here. This idea caught me at a time when I’ve been doing some philosophizing about process and the whole idea of practice, so unfortunately that means you will have to bear with me.
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The Harold

27 Apr
by Kevin Czap

Kevin Czapiewski Spoilers

Note: This post is a continuation of an apparent series where I talk about story-telling methods and artistic practices that interest me, particularly in how they can be applied to comics.

“People say that life is just one damn thing after another. That is not true. It’s the same damn thing over and over again, and you’ve gotta keep your head loose enough to see it as it comes around again.” – Del Close

In high school I was a theater kid. This meant that my friends and I took theater classes every semester, we showed up on Saturday to build sets, we acted and sometimes sang in the school plays, we wrote and directed one-acts, things like that. It also meant that we did improv occasionally. Some of the most fun we had thoughout our high school careers was during improv practices and competitions (thanks in no small part to
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