Ten Little Indians
Friday — February 21st, 2014

Ten Little Indians

Update 7-18-14

Healthwise, things are looking up. Still no prognosis, but I’m gaining wait, one tumor is definitely shrinking and liver functions seem to be improving at a an important rate. PET scan near the end of August will give a better big picture, but the extreme fatigue turned out to be the cumulative effect of the chemo, and with a few adjustments I am getting much more done.

The strip is going to start up again on August 20–teh old Gentleman’s birthday–and since that’s a Wednesday, we’ll also have a new page up on Friday as a bonus. Please tell your friends The first three months will be the pages I’ve been working on, and then I’m proud to announce the new artist, Jerry Bennet, will make his debut. You’re going to love him, he’s terrific (assuming I haven’t cursed something by announcing it this early.) He’ll carry it through to the end of Book 5, then we will both take a break to prep for the ultimate issue 6. No sense short changing anybody at this late date.

Update 6-24-2014

Got my latest CT scan results yesterday. The growth of the tumor has stopped but there is little sign of shrinkage. One doctor thinks this is the best we can hope for, the head guy a bit more positive that we should go another three rounds of chemo and reassess. Problem is, the only other chemo treatment for this cancer now believed to be pancreatic) has less of a success rate. Besides the growth stopping, there are a few other details that tip me toward the positive. One, the delay in my chemo means that the CT doesn’t register at least one full week of additional work by the drugs. Two, my ability to eat greater amounts and to be able to digest more fibrous foods indicates the stricture in my stomach is enlarging, which points to shrinkage in the tumor. This area is not able to be seen clearly on a CT scan, so no one can say for sure, but the change is so dramatic that I don’t see how it can be otherwise. Biggest day to day issue is fatigue, but I’m doing what I can. I need a t-shirt that says “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

But still pushing ahead on all fronts on LIM. I now have 12 pages finished except for color, still looking for penciller, and moving ahead on Book six synopsis (well, actually, I’ve finished three additional pages of that except for coloring as well, but decided I needed to focus more on getting Book 5 wrapped up.)

Update 6/19/2014

Had to skip chemotherapy last week, because my white blood cell count was dangerously low.SO I got it yesterday, and am just enjoying the general discomfort that comes with the first three or four days. The good news is that it seems to be working. I am able to eat full meals of solid food, getting up 2000 calories a day on my own without supplements. There was a good period there when I couldn’t get half that even with Boost and smoothies. And although I haven’t completely reversed the weight loss, I’ve slowed it from roughly 10 pounds a week to 2 pounds. I claim a victory.

Still hunting for a penciller. I’ve a number of really enthusiastic beginners, but no one I was willing to pay the rate I’m offering. I don’t need a mimic, but I need a certain quality level to feel comfortable. In the meantime I just keep plunging ahead on my own. I need to go back and start coloring and then I can start posting again. I’ve got three months of inked/lettered art ready. That should give me a buffer.

Been on a samurai movie binge. Some good,some great, all of them make me wish I could introduce a samurai into LIM:-)

Till later…..

Update, 6-10-14

Last chemo tomorrow, and I feel I’m better prepared by far than I was for the last two.

The guy I had working on the pencils didn’t work out, which is a shame because I thought he was doing a good job. I’ve put out the word and have a couple of other prospects. In the meantime, I continue to move forward. I have one more page to finish (no. 92!) before I will then go back and start color.

Have  a good weekend.

Update 2 June 2014

Things continue to bubble along. Finished my third chemo last week; next week will  be the last before a new CT scan, which will show if the chemo is working. I think it is, not because I’m Pollyanna, but because of certain little changes here and there in my body that seem to indicate some shrinkage in the tumor. That doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods, it just means there’s a bit more of a chance to stick around awhile longer than could be.

I have a wealth of material for LIM building up. As I mentioned, 7 pages ready to color (hope to start that this weekend), 8 new pages written and being worked on by the new guy. He’s having a bit of trouble finding his feet, but I’ve told him not to try and imitate my style. I think his own style fits fine. Moving ahead (albeit slowly) on the book 6 synopsis, and I got this wild hair that I wanted to draw the actual last four pages of book 6 myself, so it ends with my work. To that end, I pencilled and am inking those pages now as well.

I appreciate all the good wishes and good thoughts and hopefully I won’t sound greedy if I ask for them to continue. Several people have made donations, including some very large ones. I appreciate those as well. I am not actively seeking donations, but any money received is going into its own little account to pay the new artist and do other things to help finish the book. But it will be finished in one form or another, no matter what.

Update 5-23-14

A little lighter update today.

I pulled all my notes and scribbles and various versions for book 6 together and completed my first draft outline. So much has changed since I first conceived the whole thing that it took a lot of juggling. Characters have changed, motivations have altered, and some events have been moved in time. For instance, the back story of how Kartophilus was a living tumor that came out of Abdul Al-Hazred was originally part of the climax. But it seemed to fit so much better where I ended up putting it that I didn’t sweat moving it. A few things have gone in reverse, moving to this last chapter.

The story is the same, mind you, and the climax is the same as has always been planned. But new events, new characters, etc., have just added different coloration to what was already there.Better coloration.

It looks like it will run, if done in comic book form, well over 100 pages. I still need to go back over the previous five books to make sure I haven’t missed a plot thread or incident that needs to be wrapped up, but reading over what I have just as it is now, I have to say  this:

It’s going to be a hell of an issue.

Update 5-17-2014

I didn’t mean to let so much time go past without another update. It puts the wrong idea in people’s heads. I’ve had good days and bad days, most of the bad being due to other things than the chemo and disease. A missed med, a bad acupuncture session, etc.

I’m into my second round of chemo now. I know there is sometihng at war in my guts because I can feel things burbling and moving –not like gas, smart-alecks–and I am taking it as a sign that chemo is kicking some cancer butt.

Lovecraft kept an actual journal of his dying days, even through all the tremendous pain. An odd one to the end, he. Me, I first of all don’t plan on getting to that point, but if I do, I will be too tanked on morphine to do any writing.

I’m still moving forward slowly. I can get about a panel a day done when I’m feeling good. And I’m writing script pages for the new guy, and trying to work out all the wagging tails that must be settled in the final book. And there are a few pages I may just have to draw myself no matter what.



update 5-1-2014

My own personal Cthulhu got his first taste of chemotherapy yesterday. It’s three drugs, but a 46 hour infusion, so I’m wearing a pump around till tomorrow. No side effects to speak of except, weirdly, an aversion to extreme cold, like the Old Gentleman himself. Only this is weirder. Cold tapwater feels like my fingers are being cut with tiny razors. Ice causes my throat to feel like it is constricting. I hate to think what touching my tongue to a cold flagpole in winter would be like. But these are all just sensations, not physical. Aside from the discomfort I could soak in an ice bath and drink iced tea to my heart’s content. It only lasts a day or two, so I’m good with it.

First couple of days here were hectic but we are settled in now. I’m getting a few hours in on LIM each day. I hope to finalize a deal with another artist when I get back home to finish out issue 5, which will be another 30 pages or so. I have seven completed without color now, and want to finish drawing this sequence before I go back and start color. We might even be up and running by the end of the month and make it through the end of the year without another disruption in service.

I’m writing out detailed notes for the climactic issue, so no matter what happens, the story will be wrapped up. Could be just notes, might be a mix of prose and pictures, might even make it into full comic pages.

Thanks to each and everyone of you for your good wishes, prayers and support. I appreciate it more you know,

Lovecraft is Missing: How to Make a Webcomic-Publishing

Ok, we’re in the home stretch. No sense having done all this work and not getting your comic out there for people to see.. There are two basic options: publish it yourself, or go with one of the umbrella groups that publish multiple titles.


I took this route, not because of any particular merits of the method but because I didn’t know any better. However, it has worked out fine for me, and I’m not competing with other strips on the same site.

I use WordPress, with the Comic Press plug-in. Both are available for free download, but you have to have your own hosting site. (There are actually two WordPress optioons. The one linked above is WordPress.org, which is free; WordPress.com will host your site, but charges a fee and is less flexible than WordPress.org,

I have to say WordPress is not anywhere near as easy to install and manage as their promotoion would lead you to believe. WordPress is an open source program, so there’s no one funnel for information. I suppose if you’ve already mastered PHP and CSS you’ll do ok; otherwise, be prepared to spend a lot of hours searching for answers to what seem like basic questions. The forums are largely worthless.

Comic Press is fairly straightforward, and it makes loading the comic pages a snap. The forums are a little more organized, but I find that you still have to know CSS and PHP and general geek speak to be able to unbderstand a lot of the answers, or even to ask the questions.

Umbrella Sites

Some people call these networks, others call them collective; I’m just feeling a little mavericky today. The idea is that one hosting service features multiple strips. Some are devoted to a single genre, like fantasy, while others are very diverse. Some only feature a handful of strips, others have dozens.

Here’s a list of links to the ones I know of, in no particular order:

Webcomics Nation -wide variety

Palace in the Sky – fantasy/anime/manga

DrunkDuck – wide variety

Koala Wallop - eclectic

+x comics – eclectic

Webcomics Inc -variety

Webcomic Planet

There are a lot more, but these wil get you started.


Now here’s where the rubber hits the road. There are so many webcomics out there that you are sure to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t promote the site. If you have any visions of selling t-shirts and other merchandise, you’re going to have to get into paid advertising.

Your first step is going to have to be getting your SEO terms right. SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization, and the basic idea is that you have to choose keywords that not only fairly describe your content, but that are also used in your content in such a way that the search engine spiders can find and index the page. If i could explain it better than that I would, but frankly, I’m kind of on the dense side when it comes to stuff like this. I read dozens of online articles and checked out two books from the library and I still don’t know if I’m doing it right. I do the best I can, and my comic shows up on the first page of search results for various permutations of ‘Lovecraft’. That’s the goal: to appear as high in the search pages as possible. I’ve been told if you’re not in the top ten searches on something like Google, it’s unlikely anyone will ever navigate to page 1,006 to see your listing.

Next, you want to take advantage of the sites out there that offer free promotional opportunities. There are a number of webcomic indexes/lists that you can post to, Top Web Comics having by far the highest visibility.

Then there are comic message boards and review sites, both written and podcast. You can submit your comic, or post notes on a forum. I have no favorites in the written sites, and there are a million of them. I tend toward the horror related sites, obviously, but you should search for those sites that relate to your particular comic. Of the podcasts, I stick to Digital Strips, both for listening pleasure and trying to get the word out.

Advertising is a big step up, though it doesn’t have to be expensive. Most sites offer ad space, and the rates can vary widely depending on the popularity of the strip. The easiest way to get started with ads is Project Wonderful, which allows you to bid on ads on sites you select, and you are only charged for the time you’re ad is up. For instance, if you bid 50¢ a day on an ad, but only make it active for 12 hours, you would only pay 25$ if it was up all that period. If someone else bids 60¢ for 4 hours, your ad won’t be up, but you won’t be charged  either. As soon as that other ad expires, your ad returns to the slot.

There are different size ads and thousands of sites available, though not all webcomics. You can even bid $0.00 and get some exposure on sites, though most bids are a few cents or more. The really popular strips, like Something Positive, get as much as $60.00 a day for their ad slots.

(And don’t forget, you can set up PW ad sites on your own strip and though you won’t get rich, the money that comes in can help pay for your own advertising.)

Finally, there are conventions. I haven’t explored this area too much, as there are few local cons, but this year and next I plan to travel to a few gatherings outside of Oklahoma.

One last piece of information: the Web Marketing Checklist. Not all of it is relevant to webcomcis, but it might give you a few ideas.

So get thee to it.  Get your comic out there, promote the heck out of it, and enjoy the ride. There might even be a payoff at the end, but don’t get your hopes up. It will be so much sweeter if the payoff is icing rather than the cake.

I wish you all the best of luck.

Be here next Wednesday when the the blog returns with a new Occult Detective review
and, need I add, next Friday for the debut of Lovecraft is Missing Book 4: The Truth or Falsity of Our Beliefs.

Have a good weekend.

Lovecraft is Missing: How to Make a Webcomic- Coloring

(I give up. I’ve spent all day trying to get the pictures to line up with the text, but no matter how I’ve redone it, they go where they want to go. They’re all in the vicinity of the relevant text, but excuse the crazy, sloppy layout. I’ll try to get it fixed over the next week…and I’ll have more to say about this in next week’s concluding post on Publishing.)

Color Theory

I’ve had a color theory class, read some books about it over the years; it’s  a fascinating and complex subject, way beyond the scope of this post. And when all is said and done, it still comes down to taste. Educated taste, yes, but there are lots of folks out there with an intuitive sense of what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re not one of them, I can only recommend some books I’ve found helpful: Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten, Color in Contemporary Painting by Charles LeClair and for more formulaic approaches, the Color Harmony series. If you’re self-motivated, just read lots of comics and analyze them. And remember, you often learn more studying the things you don’t like than studying your favorites. Just a thought.


I use Photoshop CS almost exclusively, though I am starting to experiment with doing some basic coloring in Flash CS4. For our purposes here, I’ll just talk Photoshop. If you don’t know how to use the software, there are plenty of classes at community colleges and lots of tutorials online. Like color, you’re on your own as far as learning the basics.

Also, there is one useful plugin for certain types of coloring that I find handy. Multifill, and it’s free from its maker, BPelt. It’s simple to use and for simpler coloring and selection it is ideal. The website explains how to use it.

Set Up

I like to experiment, so I tend not to do things the same way every time. The examples I am going to give below are just some of the things I do, but they illustrate the power of using blending modes and give you an idea how I think. Both examples deal with light, but the treatments are pretty different.

After I’ve inked and lettered the page, I put all the dialogue and balloons layers  into a folder (marked “dial”) and turn it off.  This keeps the art work clear.  I move my final art layer just beneath the dial folder, set the Blending Mode dropdown to Multiply, then lock the layer. Multiply makes the whites invisible, so I will be able to see the ink line, but the colored layers underneath will  show through. You can also put the art on the bottom, leave the Blending Mode set on Normal, then set your colored layers to Multiply (or other options) but the effects I like have to be achieved through different means. It’s just what works for you.)


Light, and the lack of it, plays an important part in Lovecraft is Missing, but just for variety’s sake, there are some locations that are flat, ordinary daylight. Here’s where I find the Multifill filter handy. By following the directions, you can almost instantly get all your

panels filled with flat color. It won’t be the color you want, but it makes selection a snap.

In the example panel, with the art layer over the top of the Multifill, the sailor suit is easily selected; if the suit appears in multiple panels, you can Shift-Select all of them at once, use the Fill command and you’ve just colored all the sailor suits with one keystroke AND  by-passed the anti-aliasing issues you get if you select the areas of the original art.

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For a cartoony strip, or even a simpler adventure strip, this is a huge time-saver.

Blending Modes

Blending Modes are a powerful tool in Photoshop and can be applied to brush strokes as well as to layers. I stick pretty much to layers out of habit, but even then I am always experimenting. Some modes give similar effects, others are radical depending on the colors involved. And by using multiple layers, the possibilities increase exponentially. A Hard Mix layer on top of a Multiply layer on top of a Difference layer will give you a completely different effect than those same three layers would if the order were reversed.

A solid but simple explanation of the Blending Modes can be found at Northlite Designs.

I usually start with a base color for an entire sequence or Picture 7 255x400 Lovecraft is Missing: How to Make a Webcomic  Coloringpage. There’s no rhyme or reason for this, I just like to establish a mood in my head. But also, by working out of a base color, my panels already have a bit of color unity built in.

I don’t want to get into color theory, but to simply explain this notion, a color scheme is more unified or harmonious if all the colors contain a little touch of a base color. Pure colors tend to look very childlike. Next time you see a print ad that is largely blue, with, say, a yellow campfire in the distance, take a closer look. You’ll find that the yellow is actually a bit on the green side. The dominant blue sucks the blue out of the green and lets your eye read it as yellow, but a pure yellow would be garish.

Ok, moving on. In this example, I selected the areas of the panel and used the Hue/Saturation control to get the colors I wanted for the base. Then I clean up the anti-alias issues, and adjust the colors a bit more. You’ll notice, I’m sure, that what I ended up with doesn’t look anything like the base color.

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Next come the shadows on the characters. On a new layer above the base color layer, I will paint in the shadow areas, usually with a medium purple color. This stems from my days in animation, where purple was used for double-exposure shadows. Black tends to deaden the shadows; other colors will work depending on your color scheme.

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Picture 12 251x400 Lovecraft is Missing: How to Make a Webcomic  ColoringWhen done, I set the layer to Multiply, which darkens the purple, and I adjust the transparency to the level that works for my eye.

I want to stress that for every panel in a sequence, the trans setting may vary. And I don’t necessarily use the exact same shade of purple, either. For me this is a subtle way to ad visual variety, and it keeps me out of the formula trap.

I paint in shadows on other objects in the same scene, often on a separate layer.Some are painted on the objects, but I also use soft-edged vignettes to focus the scene

Then I set another new layer above what I’ve been working on and paint in the character highlights. Here I go with a color related to the source light. I will often leave the layer at Normal, but I also like to cycle through the Blending Modes to look for odd effects. (You can cycle through by selecting the layer, holding Shift and hitting + or -.)

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Picture 16 255x400 Lovecraft is Missing: How to Make a Webcomic  ColoringMy next steps are in no particular order. I just continue to adjust as I go. Here I’ve added a source light, which consists of three separate layers. I set the Freehand Select lasso to a 20 pixel feather, then select the area I want for my light. I use Fill to fill it with my chosen color, then set the Blending Mode to Lighten. Using slightly different, progressively smaller shapes, I will repeat this step, adjusting the transparency to get the effect I want. often, I will set the middle of these layers to Screen, for a slightly different effect.

Like I said, it’s all about taste.

This last step is something I do on occasion when I feel I’ve strayed a little too far from my original idea. I add another new layer on top, fill it with that original base color, which covers all the work I’ve done/

Then I will determine a Blending Mode/ transparency setting that takes the panel back to what I originally envisioned.

Although this the way I choose to work, you can actually use this step to unify any color scheme.

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For the more dramatic lighting effects, I use a lot of mattes. These effects are among those that I mentioned earlier, the ones you can’t get (at least, not in the same way) if you put your art on the bottom layer instead of the top.

So, I pick my base color, as always, and leave the layer on Normal. I pull out the colors just as I did in the previous example

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On a layer beneath that, I put the color of my light source. I’m not confined to just one patch of color on this layer, as the colors are only going to show through in the places where I remove the matte (a step we haven’t gotten to yet.) In other words, you can have a yellow patch for a warm light source on the left and a blue patch for a cool on the right, both on the same layer, in the same panel. But in the example, I’m only using the one color.

Returning to the base layer, select it and down at the bottom of the Layers palette, click the rectangle with a circle. On your base layer, you will now see and additional icon just to the right of your main icon. This is your matte.

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Within the layer, if you click on the image icon, you can paint or draw on your image; if you click on the matte icon, you can only paint on the matte and you are limited to either black or white. These really aren’t colors, they represent the matte density.

If you set the brush tool to 100% with black chose, you will erase the matte with each stroke. The color on the layer underneath will show through the hole created. If you want to cover the hole up, paint over it with ‘white’ and it will cover the hole.

To achieve the lighting effect in the accompanying panel, I used a  custom bristle brush shape, set to 10% black, and continuously stroked over the areas where I wanted the highlight color to show through.  The color comes through most where I stroked the most, and least where I barely touched the matte. By keeping the brush strength low –ok, sometimes I’ll use 20% or 30% if there’s a lot of ground to cover– I can get a nice soft edge to the lights.

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Shadows here are handled in the same way as previously demonstrated, but you can use this technique for soft shadows as well.

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Finally, if an area needs texturing, I will select it, pick a texture from my file or make a new one, and paste it into the base layer. The matte will appear as a layer above the base layer, and is subject to all the same manipulation of Blending Modes and transparency as any other layer.

And as a final touch, I may apply adjustment layers, either to individual panels or the entire page, to even up contrast or desaturate the color…whatever I think makes it better.

And then….I go on to the next page.

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One last thing: keep your master file in layers; you never know when you’ll want to go back and change something, or even see how you accomplished a certain effect. Do a Save as, THEN flatten your image. I work at 11×17, 300 dpi, but for the web I reduce it to 800 pixels wide, 72 dpi. More than once I’ve had to go back and change a misspelled word or tweak a color. With the master file, I can make the change and resave, and thereby not lose any quality on the posted page.