Here is a recap of all 31 Inktober drawings in one big collage. Tons of fun and lots of drawing and crosshatching with my weapons of choice—Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens! Some of the later pieces I added color either with watercolors or right in Photoshop using my Wacom Cintiq display. Can’t wait to do it all over again again next year! Check out my instagram to see all of them at full scale.
Creating a brand new comic strip is not too dissimilar to being the dictator of a tiny middle European nation that no one has ever heard of before.
Like a lot of those little countries, my comic strip didn’t exist a few years ago, and who knows what’s in store for its future? However, I cast aside such dark and foreboding thoughts and rule my imaginary Lost Cactus comic strip in an autocratic, albeit benevolent fashion. What’s disheartening is breaking through the clutter and demonstrating to folks young, old, and every age in between, that acquainting themselves with my Lost Cactus comic strip is worth a small percentage of their precious time.
And why is Lost Cactus worthy of a small notch in a prospective new fan’s daily timeline of important stuff? Well, for one thing, it’s funny. And who doesn’t like to laugh? I know I do. It’s why I became a comic strip fan at an early age. Humor has always been of paramount importance in my life and sometimes to my detriment, I discover it in the oddest of places. To abbreviate what would otherwise be a long story, through a creative process that involved mining for humor in uniquely different settings and situations—a process that I originally began in earnest in 2013—I now rule my small country, Lost Cactus. To my knowledge, this highly-classified quasi-government base hidden in the far reaches of Southwestern desert is about as far afield of where one would typically expect to find comic strip humor as one can get. Did I mention Lost Cactus has everything from aliens to dinosaurs to a genetically altered bee named Bentley? Well, I guess I just did.
Recently I had a table promoting Lost Cactus at a small press and comics show in the mile-high (in more ways than one) city of Denver, Colorado. I met some fantastic people, young and old, all there because they love comics and fan art in general. However, I believe I was the only artist exhibiting anything even remotely close to Lost Cactus. And not to brag, but if I don’t, then who will? Many who stopped by my table curiously, almost daintily, picked up the sample copies of my Lost Cactus Treasuries 1 & 2. After briefly flipping through the pages, they would have a hearty chuckle, and then inevitably turn to their partner to show them what they just read, spawning a quick smile, and more times than not, a reach for the wallet to quickly purchase one or both books. I sold a lot of books!
As the show progressed over the long weekend, I also received a lot of genuine compliments that money can’t buy. The one I heard a lot that I take to heart and cherish the most is when people made a comparison in style between Lost Cactus and my all-time favorite comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes. As show attendees and other exhibitors came up and inquired what Lost Cactus is all about I developed an elevator pitch that seemed to resonate: Lost Cactus is like Calvin & Hobbes in style and a humorous take on X-Files in substance. I winced at the name-dropping every time I said it, but it worked as people could quickly relate to what Lost Cactus is all about:
A classicly drawn 3-panel strip that spoofs paranormal, urban myths and under-the-radar government agencies to great comic effect, published in beautifully designed full-color anthologies featuring a shared universe of short stories and humorous essays that expand the Lost Cactus mythology beyond the finely inked comic strip panels.
So if you’re looking for the humorous comic strip ramblings of a put-upon hipster and his precocious talking dog/cat, you’re in the wrong country. You are in Lost Cactus. There are no roads that lead to Lost Cactus. You will not find it on Google or any other map. Its inhabitants are all sworn to secrecy. And presidents, since its inception 1947, have all been kept out of the loop. You know the reason: plausible deniability.
The process of creating a comic strip universe involves a LOT of drawing and I have a stack of sketchbooks jam-packed with sketches bolstering that rather obvious statement.
These sketches range from barely legible scribbles of story ideas that breached my fervent imagination in the middle of the night and then sketched in a bleary-eyed early morning hurry before I forgot them, like a dream, to nicely rendered little works of Lost Cactus artwork. Most of the time you’ll find my latest sketchbook positioned beside my keyboard so I can draw in between time-consuming computer tasks or while taking breaks from the day job. These sketches are much more methodically rendered with my favorite Faber-Castell PITT artist waterproof ink pens in high-quality Moleskin-style sketchbooks. Sometimes my sketchbook ramblings morph into strange stream-of-conscious compositions like this recent example that I finished with some watercolors.
I have drawn this way for as long as I can remember and it is a great way to let the imagination fly. This one features a couple of new characters I am working on for my next Lost Cactus project. That is all I will say for now regarding that little tease other than can you find ‘The King’ in this picture?