Guest Comic By Lily Watson (Age 5)

The Doctor Is In T-Shirt, Funny Doctor Who Parody Shirt, Charlie Brown, Sci-Fi

Hang on, there must be something in both my eyes. 

I am flying out to Chicago today, so I decided rather than posting some filler I would share with you the side project I’ve been working on with my daughter. It’s called Daddy/Daughter Digital Drawing Time. First some back story: Last December at Dragon’s Lair Webcomics Rampage I picked up the first trade of DC Comics Tiny Titans to bring home to my daughter. I’d been wanting to introduce her to comics and it seemed the perfect title to do just that. The stories are genuinely interesting and funny, but still at a level she can fully absorb and the art is just fantastic. She tore through the first trade in a few days (well, my wife read it to her a little each night before bed as the kiddo was 4 at the time and still learning to read). It turns out that comics are a pretty fantastic way to get young children interested in reading. More so than any other book in her vast library (quite literally hundreds of books), she was super engaged and really trying to read the words to keep up with the pictures and NOT getting frustrated when things got tough like she normally does. I realized we had found a winner and we picked up another trade at Barnes and Noble. Again, she was enthralled. Unfortunately the series ended right around the time we discovered it, but there are still another 5 or 6 trades to pick up which should be plenty for her.

C2E2 in Chicago is this weekend! I’ll be with Blind Ferret at Booth 432. More details HEREIf you are coming to C2E2, you really don’t want to miss our panel:

Panel: Webcomics Roundtable With Blind Ferret and Explosm!
Date: 4/14/2012      Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM      Location: N426c

Since my daughter has been old enough to hold a stylus, we’ve been drawing on my Cintiq together. At first she would scribble in Photoshop or play with the shape tools. Then she got hooked on KidPix, a drawing app for kids with an unnecessary amount of silly noises, goofy animations and a UI designed specifically to annoy parents and delight children. I don’t remember if it was my idea or hers, but a few weeks ago we decided that she was going to draw a character from Tiny Titans. I realized as we were getting started that this was her very first attempt at replicating pre-existing art. This was essentially how I learned to draw. I would look at panels from Amazing Spider-Man or my Marvel trading cards and do my best to recreate them on paper. This exercise really trains your artistic muscle memory and helps you develop a base skill set to work with when it comes time to create you own original art. So she decided on drawing Raven. I found a reference image, opened a new Photoshop document and set up a brush tool that I thought she could work with easily. I introduced her to the concept of “inking” vs. “coloring” and made sure she was working on the appropriate layer. As she drew I tried not to tell her what to do, but instead ask her questions that might lead to discoveries. “Is that circle the same size as Raven’s head?” or “Are those legs the same length? Do you want them to be?” etc. For the most part she would start by just drawing an arm or a leg the way she always does. After reminding her that we were trying to make it look like the picture, she would stop, think about it for a second then try again. This was one of those proud Daddy moments that sticks with you forever. My little girl was learning how to look at the world like an artist. “How big is this in relation to that?” “What shapes is this made of?” “How many lines does it take to do this?” These are the questions that artists ask themselves 1000 times a day without even realizing it. I’ve always thought the difference between an artist and a non-artist was just the ability to see things for what they’re made of, their base components, and then store and index that information for later retrieval and output. In my brain right next to “my house is grey” is “my house is 2 rectangles, 2 triangles, a square…” and so on. AND SHE WAS LEARNING HOW TO DO THIS! AT FIVE! I was beaming and she was having a blast. She was so happy at the results she told me to “show them to all of my friends,” so I started posting them on Tumblr.

It’s not about teaching my daughter to be an artist. If she gives it a shot and decides she likes softball better, then that’s her choice to make. For me, it’s about exposing her to who I am, what I care about and what I know. I want to show her how to do the things I know how to do, and make her understand why I do them. Why I care about them. I want to be the voice in her head long after I’m gone that asks “Are those legs the same length? Do you want them to be?” just before she says “Nope. Who cares if they are?” and goes back to doing it her own way. I believe this is the way that we, as parents, pass on more than DNA. I started this comic specifically so I would be proud of the answer when my daughter was old enough to ask what I did for a living. Five years into this experiment and I’m prouder than I ever could have imagined, but not of myself. I’m proud of her, and grateful that I get to be the one to show her how to draw super hereoes. Seriously, what is going on with my eyes? There’s definitely something in both of them.

COMMENTERS: Did you parents or any influential adult in your life teach you a skill or get you interested in a hobby as a child?  Did you stick with it? How did that experience affect who you are today, or how you might parent your own kids?

Special thanks to Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani for making such a fantastic comic. Without Tiny Titans as catalyst, I’m not sure we would have started drawing like this together. Whether they ever know it or not, they’ve helped create a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Check out more of there work at Blindwolf Studios. I hope I get to see them and say thanks at C2E2 this weekend. Maybe I’ll bring them a print of this “guest comic.”

Don’t Excrete Guano Where You Eat

The Doctor Is In T-Shirt, Funny Doctor Who Parody Shirt, Charlie Brown, Sci-Fi

“Alfred, have you pressed my bat pantaloons? And shined my bat spats? Then I’m off to fight crime, right wrongs, serve justice, be the instrument of vengeance… and get a little pussy on the side.”

You guys are lucky I have a modicum of restraint. This comic very nearly included the phrase “his dynamic dong-o.”

COMMENTERS: Do you think DC is just grasping at straws and pandering to the lowest common boner denominator? Or are they really showing modern, liberated, sexually empowered characters? What other outrageous hookups or super-sexual exploits might get more eyeballs on DC’s filth rags? Here’s what my buddy David, has to say on DC’s “retooling” of Starfire.

Of Popped Collars and Pinstripes


Funny T-Shirts, Geeky shirts, Doctor who parody shirts, Team Edward James Olmos shirt, Groverfield Shirt, Sci-Five Star Trek Parody T-Shirt in The HijiNKS ENSUE Store

I’m not that into DC comics proper these days. Their movies, cartoons, etc certainly have my attention, but floppy, paper comic-wise I’m pretty out of the loop. From an outsider perspective the whole reboot/relaunch seems like a drastic grab for attention and money, which I in-no-way fault DC for. They need both desperately, and they certainly should do what they need to in order to hold on to their audience in a dying industry for a few more years while they figure out the next steps (though I doubt they are anywhere near close to figuring such steps out).

On the other hand, it seems like a much-needed course correction for an insanely complicated and convoluted continuity that has been running out of control for over 40 years. Perhaps a 9 year old kid that starts reading DC comics today will find this new unified universe MUCH easier to grok than I did coming into it in the early 90’s. I wish DC all the best, and I hope this stunt brings more mainstream media attention to comics in general, but I suspect they are only delaying the inevitable. What are comic books, if not little monthly newspapers about aliens and robots (and sometimes alien robots… I’m looking at YOU BRAINIAC, you big jerk.)

Sidenote: From an artist’s perspective, the new costumes take WAY LONGER to draw.

COMMENTERS: Did you pick up any of the new 52 #1 titles? What do you think? Those that didn’t, what do you think of the DC relaunch in general (Zod)?

Baltimore Comic-Con 2011 Fancy Sketches

Wil Wheaton and I got excited and made this Three Wheaton Moon shirt. You can buy it! Then you can wear it! Only two steps to total geeky happiness? Sign me up!

Three Wheaton Moon T-Shirt, Funny Three Wolf Moon Parody, Wil Wheaton T-Shirt, 3 Wil Wheaton Moon, Clown Sweater, Wesley Crusher, Evil Wil Wheaton

Baltimore comic-con was a blast, and not the kind where I get shot in the chest and die in my partner’s arms forcing him to avenge me and clean up the mean streets at the same time. Honestly, I had intended to this to be my last year due to slumping sales from 2009 to 2010 but the Fancy Bastards came out in force and made it one of my best cons of the year. Thanks! Special ultimate thanks go to FB’s Adam and Casey for hosting me all weekend, driving me around, and throwing me a wonderful party/FB Meetup and to FB Alex for being my booth babe at the convention. Additional thanks to all of the FB’s who came the meetup. We had burgers, hotdogs, drinks, shitty movies and good times in excess of the legal limit as stipulated by Maryland municipal code. See you next year for BatliMORE! [get it?] #imsorry #dontshootme #iknowyouhaveguns

HEY LOOK!: You asked for it, so I added a “Winter Is Coming” desktop to The Vault. I’ve also added “Chibi Wolverine” and “Three Wheaton Moon” desktops as well. Just make a donation of any amount, or sign up for a recurring donation subscription and you’ll get access. I’ve also added mobile versions of these desktops HERE.


PROtest & CON

The Doctor Is In T-Shirt

“The Doctor Is In” shirt based off the “You’re The Last of The Time Lords, Charlie Brown” comic is here!

HijiNKS ENSUE Joel Watson At San Diego Comicon

San Diego Comic-Con is in a week! I will be with Ryan and Lar and Danielle at the Blind Ferret Booth in the Webcomic area. Booth 1332. I will have books 1 and 2, prints, sketches and nearly all of my shirts.

I am spending all available time before SDCC getting ready for the con and completing projects that MUST be… completed… to completion. I have NO IDEA what the comic schedule will be like during SDCC. A smart person would place a bet on ERATIC and possibly NONEXISTENT. SDCC is an incredibly stressful week, because it combines all of the normal convention stress (times at least 10 due the size and scope of the show) with the additional stress of wanting to see and hang out with all of the friends and various amazing people that congregate at that shrine of geekdom annually. It’s sort of an “OMG TOO MUCH FUN TO HAVE!!!” stress, which I do not expect you to feel sorry for me about.

Follow me on Twitter if you want to be kept abreast of all the SDCCnannigans. I have also created a Google+ account and I am really enjoying how much it is NOT Facebook. I’ve been doing 10 person video “Hangouts” with readers and other cartoonists for the past couple of nights and it is incredibly enjoyable.

COMMENTERS: Do you have strong feelings either way about the DC Reboot? Is something like this necessary to breathe new life into an aging industry? Is is needed just so fans and creators alike can finally keep the continuity straight? Is is Supersacrilege? Whats with all the extra lines and popped collars on the costumes?

The HijiNKS ENSUE Store is closed for now so I can make some big, exciting changes. It will be reopening VERY soon. In the meantime you can still get shirts from Sharksplode and HE Book 2 from this very site.