Making a Friend on the Bus” Back when I was struggling to get Soliciting Celeste syndicated, I showed a packet with samples of my work to Jef Mallet of Frazz and Lynn Johnston of For Better or For Worse. Syndication rejection letters don’t offer any insight as to why they are not interested in a particular comic strip. I asked several syndicated cartoonists for their professional opinion, and both Jef and Lynn offered their time to help a random struggling cartoonists. Jef offered a lot of praise but warned me that my many typos would be a problem. Lynn….well….was not a fan. She wrote detailed notes on each strip telling me why they were not good enough. After my 3 days of nursing my bruises, I finally saw what she was seeing and I reluctantly agreed. I quit Soliciting Celeste after making over 180 strips and started from scratch with Something about Celeste.

This particular strip I liked a lot so I recycled the idea. Lynn Johnston particularly didn’t like the original idea. She thought it was too morbid and would never get syndicated for a general audience in the newspapers. I rewrote the punchline to make it seem that Rosalyn got hurt but didn’t die in her zeal to get away from Celeste. I never liked the new punchline as it lacked a certain amount go “umph!” Now that I am just doing a web comic (that no one reads) and I am not really interested in syndication anymore, I reinstalled the old punchline (that you can see in the archives page).

(Soliciting Celeste. 2002)                                                               (Something about Celeste. 2004)

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“Face like a Picasso” and “Van Gogh’s Ear” Neither of these are my favorites.  Both punchlines are a bit silly. But what I do like is the interaction between Paige and Dave. I like how more that their annoyance with each other ,there’s also a suggestion of sexual frustration between Paige and Dave. In addition, I like how Celeste’s childlike nature is juxtaposed with Paige’s violent aggression and Dave’s biting sarcasm. I think a comic strip should be more than just a witty punchline; a strip should be about the unique relationships between the cast of characters.

On a side note, I still get surprised how readers react (or over-react) to my strip sometimes. Some people really get into the storyline. One person was aghast. He couldn’t believe Paige actually bit Dave’s ear.

(Soliciting Celeste. 2002)                                                                        (Something about Celeste. 2005)

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“Giving a Compliment” They are basically the same comic done twice. The only difference is the Something about Celeste strip is slightly less wordy. The longer I have done comic strips, I think it is important to achieve a certain amount of brevity in the dialogue. When I was in college, I thought that to make the dialogue sound natural, I had to include every “um”, “er”, and other thinking out-loud comments uttered. Now, I try to tell a coherent story in the least amount of words as possible. Comic strips are meant to be processed quickly; no one wants to slug through a boggy, long conversation between my characters.

(Soliciting Celeste. 2002)                                                                         (Something about Celeste. 2004)

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“Visiting E.T.” The first two strips are from my college strips Common Ground and Clark Middle. They were just simple gags playing around with the visiting alien trope. The pair of strips from Soliciting Celeste and Something about Celeste have basically the same punchlines. The first punchline, I stole from another student cartoonist at the Daily Texan. If I could remember his name (Andy Crouch, I think) or his comic strip, I would give him credit for it. These pair of strips were okay throw-away-gags but not great, so I don’t think I will create future strips with that little grey as a reoccurring character.

(Clark Middle. 1998)                                                                                     (Common Ground. 1998)

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(Soliciting Celeste. first I made in 2001 and second one in 2002)(Something about Celeste. 2004)

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