Tonal Study

ku tone study 001

I’ve been reworking some Kid Universal pages so that the artwork is more in line with the aesthetic I want for Little Dog Comics.  The final pages will be done in ink wash with digital colors. Before moving on to the wash stage of the drawing I needed to get a handle on the tonal values. I made a copy of the pages (this is a double page spread) and did a value study in pencil. This process adds a lot of extra work but it helps me be more confident on the final page. Hopefully after a few more pages I won’t need to do this anymore.

The Making of Kid Universal

ku 2011

An early attempt at “Kid Universal” from 2011

It was 2009. After a year of making poor choices I was broke, with out a car, without a place to live. I was couch surfing from friends house to friends house and occasionally crashing with strangers. Fun for a while but not a sustainable lifestyle. All of my mistakes were forcing me toward one inevitable outcome- it was time to move back in with mom and dad until I could straiten out my life.

I had good reason to believe this would work. Previously my parents had moved 1,000 miles away to a small town north of Cincinnati, Ohio. I had only been there once so I didn’t know anybody and it was far enough away from all the distractions I had let lead me to this point. Also they had a a dog and dogs are therapeutic for people who are down on their luck. I’m sure there is research to back up this claim but I don’t have it at hand. If you don’t believe me you can Google it.

So that fall I moved to Ohio. By this time I hadn’t finished a drawing in almost two years.

My parents were renting a small house with a detached garage that they used for storage. The garage was damp inside from a crack in the foundation that let in water when it rained. Spiders took up residence in the unfinished ceiling. The electrical outlets were so old that if you turned on a space heater and the lights at the same time it would overload the circuit and the power would go out. Despite its flaws it was the only space available, and I desperately wanted to draw, so the garage became my studio. It was bitterly cold but a heavy coat and a few blankets later I was ready to work.

This is where Kid Universal was born.

He started out as a sketch of a kid in a super hero costume. My nephew had been born earlier that year. I hadn’t met him yet because I was too broke to travel but I kept his picture on my desk. The inspiration for Kid Universal came from thinking- when my nephew is old enough to read, what kind of stories would he like?

I wrote short scripts that were terrible. I made more sketches that were terrible. It turns out that if you don’t  make art for a long time it’s very hard to get back into it. But I stayed with it. I would work on KU until I realized something about the story didn’t work. Then I’d take a break for a few months until I came up with a better idea. In 2011 I managed to draw two pages. By 2014 I got the character to they point where he deserved a story and then I drew that story.

If you want to do something that is hard, that seems insurmountable, if you keep at it, you will make it happen.

I wanted to share this story and drawings because Kid Universal starts tomorrow and updates weekly and I wanted you to see how he started and how he changed by now. He’s just the beginning of a much wider Little Dog Comics universe. Please keep following and tell your friends to as well.