February 12 - Yo. Well, I did clear up all smaller, "one off" art commissions, leaving me with just those larger ones. Beyond the greater volume of artwork that each of these represents, they are "larger" illustration projects also because they require a lot more prep work than a drawing of, say, a dog chewing on a giant bone. In these cases, I have to read the stories. Some of these are pretty long and involved, too. My usual plan of attack is to first simply read the story through in one sitting. Occasionally, some little passage or scene will stick out as being illustratable, so I'll underline or highlight it as I go, but I usually reserve that step for my second pass through. It's at that point that I'll also squiggle a quick doodle sketch here and there, jotting down my ideas for what "needs" to be drawn. Sometimes. there are specific number, size, and type requests for the illustrations, and sometimes there aren't. If there are, I start reconciling those requests with what I've doodled. If there are no restrictions/requests, I try to round out the story with what I feel is a balance of illustrations, hoping to punctuate some things, augment others, and, sometimes, fill in any "gaps" that might strike me as being needed (sometimes a character is pivotal, but not well described, so I try to help,out). Then, it's thumbnails and character design work. Even for established characters (like the Oz folks), I do model sheets and character sketches, just to get a feel of how their clothes wrinkle or hair falls or whatever. Then, after I'm comfortable (enough) with the characters and settings, I start the actual drawing process. It's all very time consuming. Right now, I'm re-reading one story, sketching characters for another, and laying out pieces for a third. Hopefully, I'll wrap up one of these by early next week, after which I can talk about it in greater depth (so much of this stuff has to remain "secret" until published, or at least until publicly advertised). Now, I had better get back to it. Here's one of my all-time favorite cartoonists, your African American Cartoonist of The Day - Aaron McGruder!