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Some of the comics in my next edition of Big Chooch are related to the Jersey Shore. I wanted to do something with the beach but not just the beach. Collectively, the comics remain a mix of diary comics from today and memoir comics from my and my family's past. So, just to start somewhere, I begin penciling pigeons and seagulls. Not everything looked like a pigeon or gull initially.

Pigeons and gulls are the two birds I encountered the most as an adolescent, but as I sketched I knew I needed a stand-alone story...a gag...something. The gull and pigeon has a loose connection to the many of the comics inside (city and beach), but I wanted a little more juice out of it.

For example, my first cover was a family member shooshing a butterfly and subsequent covers were fragments from comics inside those editions.

But I have no pigeon or seagull story for this I needed the cover to stand alone as its own one-panel comic.

I drew a gull and a pigeon facing one another and the gag began to come out of the act of drawing...drawing is thinking.

Side Note: the scan on the right is graphite pencil, not ink. But it is what pencil can look like scanned...a lot like ink.

As I drew, my gull looked pissy right from the beginning and the pigeon...indifferent. But that wasn't enough for a stand-alone, one-panel comic. What would a gull be pissy about?

Why is the gull pissy? Is the gull a gull...or is the gull a metaphor?

I remember being called a shoobie at the beach...and not knowing what it meant--a derisive sneery label for people who go to the beach for a vacation or brief visit. Ok, so the gull is a Jersey shore resident and the pigeon is city kid.

Still, it's not quite's barely a story...and certainly not a gag. So, I added some cigarette butts and ash around the pigeon--litter left behind.

How many vacationers leave trash on the beach in their awful, self-absorbed wake?

My next edition of my diary and memoir comic is being done exclusively in pencil. There are 7 different pencils on this page. These 6 are Tombows: H, 3H, 2H, B, 2B F, and I use a Blackwing Matte as well (which is soft and dark--the lines for the top two frames above are an example). I love writing and drawing with Blackwings. Such a good pencil.

As you see the top two frames is how everything will be done and scanned and printed on the page--smudges, loose lines, etc. I experimented with removing the rough and smudgy stuff on a different comic over the past few days--using Photoshop to fill in those areas with digital white...just to see how it looked. It's ok...but I'm going with this untouched-up look.

Personally, I am able to draw out a little more nuance in my drawing. This is more of a reflection of my very limited skill level with ink. Not to say I am especially skilled with pencil, but ink just a completely different animal on paper. I like it. Will continue to work with it, but for the next couple of months as I work on Big Chooch #5, most of my work will be in pencil.

So far I have penciled out 20 pages of my next comic in my journal. I supposed this constitutes a sneak peek.

For context, there were 24 total comics in Big Chooch 4 (covering 20 pages) but many took up more than one page. And there were photographs and a poem. So, I'm going to keep going until I get to 30 pages in my journal and then I will start inking and refining the comics I am going to use. Always draw more than what you need...the comic begins to take over and has a life of its when I start laying out the stories I want to use.

I remain absorbed by the finesse needed in composing a three-panel comic...they feel a little like poems. Maybe more than a little.

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