Off-Stage is back on stage

Some of you may remember my webcomic about music and life in Amsterdam, Off-Stage. I worked on it during the twilight years of the traditional webcomics model, where you have a website and post pages each week and maybe earn something from merch and book sales (I never got to that point). It didn’t feel like the right format for that story anymore, but I wasn’t sure what was.

Fast-forward a few years, and we’re in a new era. Comics exist on social media now, and in a way that makes sense for our mobile-first world. Pages get chopped up into panels that fit the portrait-orientation screen of a smartphone. Platforms like Tapas and Webtoons are bringing a whole new generation of comics to readers.

So this week I re-launched Off-Stage on Webtoons! It’s a full remaster at a higher, crisper resolution, optimized for a vertical scroll.

I was not looking forward to having to chop up all the existing pages, but I must say the process was fairly quick, and it is opening up so many possiblities to write more naturally, now that the length of an update doesn’t matter anymore. Once I get to the point where I can start making new material, I’m sure that will feel great. For now I’m busy reworking all the existing pages and posting them week by week.

Head on over to Webtoons and subscribe to stay informed!

Week 117 – new apartment, newsletter?

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Last week was quite eventful. We went to look at a new apartment on monday, claimed it, signed the lease on thursday, and rented out our old apartment to someone new on sunday! Finding a new place is kind of a pain, but sometimes you get lucky and things move really quickly. Now I get to focus on the slew of things to take care of for the move, like internet, parking permits, etc. Fun! It would be nice if moving became more like restoring an iCloud backup.

Other things happened last week too. I did some tweaks to the food icons I made for the Radboud game last week, and I worked another two days at Yoast, getting around to doing some actual artwork. On thursday the staff went for drinks and I got to know them a bit more. They’re very diverse in terms of backgrounds and expertise, but somehow it all works well together.

On a personal level I thought about the future of these weekly work updates. When I start working at Yoast four days a week there won’t be that much to report on probably, so I considered starting a newsletter to keep you guys in the loop on personal projects, once a month or so, whenever there is something to say. Would that be interesting, or should I keep doing round-ups like that on the blog here? Let me know.

[polldaddy poll=9122467]

I also did some groundwork on the Off-Stage website. I plan to (finally) continue updating that strip once I’ve settled into my new work routine.

Next week: Last week at my old side job, finishing up my freelance projects, and moving my ass to a new city.

Week 78

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Last week started off with the inevitable drawing off an off-stage comic. I tried something new by drawing two short comic instead of one long one. I’m planning to publish the shorter ones inbetween the big ones every week, but this time they replaced it completely.

I also worked on one of my newyears resolutions: daily comics.

dailies_20150114

I had to think about where I was gonna put ’em – I don’t need ANOTHER site for you to check out – but then I learned about WordPress’ Portfolio feature, which basically lets me run two feeds on the same blog. So you may notice DAILIES has been added to the menu up there, (or click straight through here), where you can find a nice page with all the comics.
There will be one for mostly every day, though they may not go up on the same day. So if you want to grab the rss feed to stay up-to date from your favorite feed reader app, use this one.

One problem I had with doing the dailies again is that I had to update my caricature. The last time I did dailies was in 2009, when I wasn’t rocking a beard yet. Most attempts to add a beard to my avatar since then have not felt quite right yet. So I’ll keep at it! Let me know when you think I’ve hit the mark.

If you’re looking for more daily comics from illustrators, check out Kevin Days A Week, Inkdick or Johhny Wander.

Other than that I’ve just been enjoying my part-time job and staying away from twitter and gamesindustry newssites for the most part. It feels good to not have to care about all the drama that comes in through those channels every day. I found myself having more free time, which I used to finish Watch_Dogs (hella good) and work through my movie backlog; if you’re into time-travel mindfucks, I recommend Predestination.

Next week: business projects.

Updating Suze’s wardrobe

Suzanne from my webcomic Off-Stage has been wearing the same outfit as when the comic started, as have her co-stars for the most part. Having a single well-designed and recognizeable outfit is great and works for many comic characters – but Suze’s could have used a few more iterations. So I wrote a subplot where she changes her appearance a little, and went in search of a better outfit.

The two big issues I had were with her hair (that fringe was always hard to draw from different angles) and her shirt was tough to get right; sometimes it accentuated her form in a way a loose-fitting garment like that could not, but to draw it realistically would turn her into a square blob. So besides the hair I also updated her wardrobe. I tried a few things but eventually stayed closed to the original, which felt like the best match visually and with her personality (far left is the original, the NEW YORK shirt is the chosen design).

Week 76

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Hey there, welcome to 2015. A new year, and a new coat of paint for the blog.

In the last week of 2014 I translated my site into dutch as part of my 2015 resolution of focusing more on the dutch market (more on that later). I’m still doing the same for the presskit content – thanks to the just-released presskit() 2.5 update!

To start off 2015 I wrote down some of my goals, business/art-wise. I wasn’t going to do it at first, but when I thought of one thing I was already doing – learning Illustrator – the rest came naturally.

So here they are in no particular order:

learn illustrator
I never really ‘got’ what it was for, but with more and more art moving into vector I felt like I had to sit down and learn it front to back.

translate my portfolio into dutch
The past few months I’ve realised that I never really put much thought into the dutch market. I do work for dutch clients (and with this VATMOSS business I’m happy sticking to that), but my portfolio never reflected that, nor did my own projects. I always focused on the international, but I can see now there is merit in romancing the dutch side of things as well.

start doing daily comics again
Back in my third year of art school I drew daily comics every now and then, just as a sort of diary. Nowadays a lot of people do a vlog – it’s basically the same idea. It helps me remember the small moments and find a punchline in ordinary situations. I want to start doing those again, and combining them with these weeknotes maybe.

get my art/cartoons into a (dutch) (comic) magazine
Magazines are a largely unexplored area for me, and I think I can expand the sort of semi-weekly cartoons I do for The Post Online into that realm.

off-stage
I have a couple of ambitions for Off-Stage – increase the readership through targeted advertising, finish chapter 2, and start doing smaller updates more than once a week. I like the full-page format I’m drawing in now, but I’d like to start doing two-or-three-panel gags inbetween those.

And ofcourse I’ll be working on Black Feather Forest again in the future, plus a few other goals I’m keeping up my sleeve for now. It’s plenty to keep busy with, I’d say.

Next week: keeping busy with it.

Week 72

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Last week started off well with getting hired for a part-time job. It’s enough to cover the rent each month and it only takes three mornings a week, so by noon I can be back behind Photoshop. I’d like to do more but for now this is okay, it’s not a well-off market out there it seems.

The rest of the day and into tuesday I worked on a new Off-Stage page as usual.

In the meantime I emailed another potential Black Feather Forest publisher on the recommendation of a friend, and this at least was the first one that wasn’t full/unavailable yet. I’ve been brainstorming story ideas for them and I managed to come up with five or six alternate angles to the second half of the game that are exciting me more than the original story draft, so I’m looking forward to writing those out.

On wednesday I went by the Dutch Game Garden networking lunch and caught up with some industry friend. I should really hang out with them more.

Thursday was filled up with Sinterklaas crafts, making cardboard constructions, a nice change of pace from the digital world.

On friday I booted up the Trusted Soil adventure game project again and implemented and linked up all the rooms that we had in the previous version, so you can walk around all the locations again. It’s a bit of a mechanical task, porting old code and going through the same motions again and again, but the result is fun to click around in.

On saturday I returned to an old favorite of mine, audio production. I was overdue to do a voiceover for a friend’s game trailer, and while I was at it I recorded the first episode of a new podcast I’m thinking of starting. Due to the traffic noise outside my window (even when it is closed), I had to set up my recording studio in the bathroom (and leave the light off otherwise the air purification fan would kick in…)

On sunday we celebrated the Sinterklaas holiday with my family. It was very gezellig. (check out my construction below)

Next week: getting up at dawn to do a job!

Week 71

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Last week was the week of advertising. I have Project Wonderful set up on the Off-Stage site, and now it was time to use the system in the opposite direction and advertise out. I chose two or three similar webcomics and put up a skyscraper ad running for a few days, and I got some decent traffic out of it. After a quiet period it was nice to see that spike in Google Analytics. Let’s see if some of that traffic sticks.

spike

And on tuesday I posted a new comic page as usual. I also got word that an assignment I was counting on fell through, which put me in a bit of a tough spot. So I decided to send some emails out for some part-time work on the side. And for the heck of it I decided to send Off-Stage to Paradiso aswell.

The next day I got an email from Paradiso’s publicist that he liked the comic, and wondered if I could do a last-minute logo for the Paradiso Christmas gifts, and possibly more work in the future. And so I spent the afternoon designing a simple Paradiso logo.

I drew some more drawings that week, and spent a fair chunk of friday evening marvelling over the new Star Wars trailer. To have a new Star Wars in my lifetime, what a joy. And it looks great.

Next week: job market success.

Week 70

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

I started last week off feeling kind of drained, a condition that’s been developing for the past few weeks. Rather than write it off on fatigue, I had it looked at, and turns out it was the most freelance-creative thing it could be – a vitamin D deficiency. So hopefully the doc has me back at 100% soon.

I spent the day prior to the diagnosis playing catch-up with all my favorite shows. And sadly most of them are entering their final season. I’m gonna miss The Newsroom and White Collar. But Constantine has captured my attention, and Agents of SHIELD and Bob’s Burgers continue to be fun. They’re also recharging my creative vocabulary with situations, characters, shots and poses I can draw from in my own work.

On thursday I went by the new Paladin Studios office to catch up with my old colleagues. It was fun as always and it’s great to see them doing well now. I miss having them in the same room to sparr with, but I don’t miss the travel time, woof.

2014-11-20 16.23.34

Inbetween I’ve also finally started reading The Webcomics Handbook by Brad Guigar, which I backed (and received) ages ago, to polish up my webcomic skills. Most of it sounds like a familiar tune, but there were some useful morsels in there.

Then I got to the chapter on Google PageSpeed and I fell down a WordPress optimization rathole for an evening. In the end the site is running leaner and nicer though, I think it was worth it.

Over the weekend we celebrated my grandparents being married for 60 years. What a feat, wow.

Next week: searching for ad revenue and trespassing mice

Help me get on Comic Chameleon

Heyo, I’m trying to get my comic Off-Stage into the Comic Chameleon app, which would mean you automatically get new pages delivered right to your phone or tablet, and by reading them for FREE you’ll be supporting me financially (it’s magic, I know).

All you have to do to help is post to Twitter (or Google+) with the following text:

I want to see offstagecomic.com on Comic Chameleon, the ultimate webcomics iPhone app! http://comicchameleon.com/ via @comicchameleon

Copy-paste! Only takes half a minute! Thanks so much.

And if you did, be sure to stop by the Comics Chameleon Kickstarter to make sure the app becomes even better: http://kck.st/1sdkFeb