Buffer Update… oh my achin’ hand

Well, I cranked out the inks on six strips this morning in the space of 1 hour and 50 minutes. I feel pretty good about that. My hand hurts, though.

Now it’s time to color them. And then script another week. And then pencil/ink/color. And then repeat… I’ve got to get 20 or 30 or 50 strips in the buffer so I can dig into the book work for a week or two at a time.


22 thoughts on “Buffer Update… oh my achin’ hand”

      1. You very clearly learned some skills in the meanwhile. When she took over I was all impressed with the shiny, non flat filled sundays and general jump in quality.

        And, as you can imagine, I never noticed the transition back! A very late congraduations on that skill set.

  1. Uh… Howard, when your hand starts hurting, it IS time to stop.

    Seriously, you can make *permanent* damage to your hand if you don’t. And unless you’re ambidextrous, that is something uh, not good.


    1. Thanks for the advice. I pushed it too hard at CONduit, and paid the price for several days afterwards.

      This is just garden-variety, “I drew six strips today” pain. It’s like an old friend.


      1. Have you considered a brace? I don’t know how intrusive it would be on the fine finger/wrist control needed for drawing, but maybe there’s a brace that permits the proper kinds of movement? (Of course, the only kind of brace I know of completely immobilizes the wrist, and that’s no good…)

        1. Depends how you draw really. I have very few wrist problems because I hardly move my wrists. I draw, ink and move my mouse primarily using finger movements. I only tend to move the wrist itself for big flowing lines.
          One time I got into a real groove and just kept drawing and inking for 3 days, only breaking for sleep and food. In the last comic I did in that time the last panels look like arse because my hand hurt so damn much (the finger joints and between the fingers). My most productive and painful moment.

  2. I’ve got to get 20 or 30 or 50 strips in the buffer so I can dig into the book work for a week or two at a time.

    Book work?!? As in Schlock Mercenary Book Work?


    1. Oooh, let’s hope so! A Schlock Mercenary Trade Paperback would be all kinds of awesome. Reading back from schlock 1001 (I had before started at about the start of the latest plot arc) it’s clear that Howard is one of the best writers I’ve seen in comics. (Mr ‘Cerebus’ Sim is still my fave, but there’s never any shame being second to Dave.)

      Oh and for the record, my reaction to hearing you inked 6 comics at once was “Holy *bleep*, that’s impressive!” (Expletive deleted for family friendliness)

  3. This is unrelated to, well, anything, but I wanted to tell you that I’m really impressed with the perspective work you’ve done in the last few panels, like the chainsaw last Sunday and the mercenary’s gun at the upper right of today’s strip. I’ve tried to draw like that; it’s hard. Looking at the first year’s strips, and then this year’s … wow.

  4. Okay, in today’s strip: did you fuzz the details of the terraport cage because you were drawing rapidly and considered it background, or because you were worried the BBC might sue you now that the show’s back in production? 🙂


  5. This is going to sound insane

    Hi Howard,

    I have to say, this idea is almost certainly going to sound insane. Sorry about that.

    For creativity, I recommend boredom.

    When I got laid off a while back, I thought: Wow! Now I can do cartooning full time! Yay!

    But, I quickly found that my buffer was harder and harder to maintain. Now that I’m employed again, I have script ideas coming much faster.

    Why? Well, when at work, you end up doing a lot of waiting for things to happen. Unneccessary meetings, or what have you, or little periods of the day when you’re not busy as all get out, and your brain tends to take a little vacation off to happy creative daydream land.

    When you’re on your own, you quickly find time to do LOTS of things you’d like to do, and you don’t go visit daydream land as much. There’s always a book to read, or a comic you wanted to check out, the DVD you rented, or an interesting tidbit on the news.

    I think this is why ideas that come in the shower are some of the better ones. You’re bored, and your mind goes out on a little vacation while you’re pleasantly surrounded by warm water, but you’re washing your armpits.

    Also, there’s the problem of trying to write inside a sensory deprivation chamber. Having lots of interactions with people every day, gives you little bits of inspiration that help form the crystal seed that a comic can grow from.

    So, as strange as it may sound, I’d recommend doing something boring that requires little brainpower. Like mowing the lawn, watering flowers, going for a drive. That kind of thing.

    I know it sounds counterintuitive, and a bit off the wall, but I honestly tend to think it works. My girlfriend gets some of her best ideas mowing her hayfield and running chores around her farm. No brainpower involved, so there’s lots of time to think creatively.

    Good Luck!


    1. Re: This is going to sound insane

      Actually, I do this all the time. Dishes, yardwork, house-cleaning… stuff that I can do and not have to think, so that while I do it I GET to think.

      This is also why I do at least 50% of the shopping — getting those interactions with other people, seeing people move around and do the stuff they do, it all helps shake the cobwebs loose and provide fodder for new strips.


      1. Re: This is going to sound insane

        Sounds good!

        Makes me wonder what Kevyn would invent if he found himself bored into a creative mood. 🙂

  6. Don’t forget, mid July, the new Harry Potter tome. You better have enough strips done so you can get through it while still doing the million other things you do.

  7. I’ve already got the Schlock Mercenary book on my list at Amazon.com

    One of the things I’ve found with making chainmail is that when your hands start to ache, it’s time to put the pliers down. Continuing on just leads to useless hands for the next few hours, and ugly, bloody blisters (at least before I padded the plier grips.)

    (as a digression, I’d consider making a Tagon’s Tough’s T-shirt out of mail to send as fanart, but honestly, I can’t afford the extra materials expense)

    It sounds like you’re not overdoing it, though, which is good. Also, I’m reminded that Jin Wicked of “Asylum on 5th Street” and “Crap I Drew On My Lunch Break” has recently started wearing a wrist brace while drawing to alleviate her repetitive stress injury. Perhaps that is worth looking into.

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