Bandit's Banter

My apologies for no Banter in February, as last month was quite hectic for me.  I spent the month putting the finishing touches on Bruno Most Wanted, the second Bruno collection, which should go on sale later on this Spring.  Expect to see the cover, and the first page of an 8 page bonus story drawn (and colored) 'specially for the book, posted here on my site.  The bonus story is called "Do The Wrong Thing Right", and is a tale of Bruno's impetuous youth.  Now to get to work on Bruno book three...

As well, I spent some time working on another secret project.  It's not quite as large in scope as the Sluggy Freelance story I drew in January for Pete Abrams, but was a bit of fun to work on nonetheless.  It will feature Bruno (and a host of other characters) as you've never seen him before.  Actually, this is really someone else's project, and Bruno is my contribution to it.  You should see it later this month.  Stay 'tooned...

Having naught else to talk about this month, I feel it's high time that I post a list of Frequently Asked Questions.  I've finally reached the stage where the same questions keep popping up in a good number of the e-mails I receive,  so, this should save us both a bit of time. But hey, I still love to hear from you, so I hope you'll keep writing.  Anyway, here be the questions:

I have a website, and I would like to be able to run the daily Bruno strip on it.  May I?

As you probably know already, Bruno the Bandit is hosted by the fine folks at Keenspot, and one of the conditions of being hosted by the 'Spot is that the daily Bruno strip be available on my site only, unless you're willing to pay for the privilege of running it on your site.  Hey, what can I say, I'm a professional (well okay, a kinda-sorta- semi-professional), and can't afford to give my work away for free, so to speak.  If you really are willing to pony up the dough to run Bruno on your site every day, your best bet is to contact  Our rates are quite reasonable, you should find.

I have a website, and I would like to put a sample Bruno strip on it.  May I?

This is a different kettle of fish altogether.  If you want to take one of your favorite Bruno strips and put it on your website, be my guest.  Hope you'll link back to me in return, of course.  Also, if you are looking for a Bruno link graphic or banner to put on your site, you can find a bunch of 'em here.

Here's an idea for a Bruno the Bandit story.  Will you draw it?

I have received quite a few interesting story ideas for Bruno the Bandit over the years, and I am quite flattered by this.  It says to me that my work has captured your imagination so much that you are willing to explore Bruno's world on your own, and I don't think you can pay a creator a much higher compliment than that.  To date, I haven't really used any of the ideas sent to me, however.  I usually have several ideas on the backburners of my mind just waiting to be taken care of, so rarely do I have a shortage of material.  However, one idea sent to me did help in the creation of the Elysia story, so, you never know.

One idea I've been kicking around is the possibility of a Bruno the Bandit fan fiction page.  If you have a story idea for Bruno, you could try to develop it yourself.  That way, you'll have a much better chance of seeing it available online.  And if you're a cartoonist, you could even draw the story yourself, where it would be featured on the fan art page.  Believe me, I'd love to see what adventures you guys could cook up with Bruno, Fiona et. al.  But try to keep it reasonably clean! :-)

Are you Canadian?

Canadian readers are usually able to figure this out after they read the Elfquestion storyline.  Indeed, I am Canadian, and live in St. John's Newfoundland.  I'm hoping to include more "Canadian content" and even "Newfoundland content" stories in my strip, but want to do so in a way that it'll be entertaining to readers no matter where they're from.

Do you play RPGs, like Dungeons & Dragons, etc.?

Many readers picked up on this after reading the Dice story.  I used to play D&D, but it's been quite a while since I've sat in on a game.  Unfortunately, the friends I used to play it with had to move away to find work. :-(  And, well, the computer D&D games just ain't as fun to me.

Have you ever thought of getting your work published in one of the RPG magazines out there (Dragon, for instance)?

I have been looking in to the possibility, actually.  Updates will be posted as they become available.

Do you have any advice on getting started in cartooning?

There are a whole bunch of resources on the 'net for aspiring cartoonists, wghich should not be too hard to find, courtesy of your nearest search engine.  They'll give you all sorts of great info on what materials to use, how to get started, artistic techniques, etc.  Rather than rehash all these ideas, I thought I'd offer a few of my own, instead:

1. Have fun!

That's probably the most important piece of advice I can give to anyone.  Your comic strip has got to be fun to do, especially if you're in it for the long haul.  And if you're doing a comic strip now, and it ain't fun, make it fun!  I have been drawing Bruno the Bandit for several years now, and my success has been, I would say, rather modest.  If I was only in it to make money, I probably would have given up years ago.  For me, doing my strip is its own reward (but the money is nice, too :-)).  Trust me, if your strip is not fun to do, you won't want to do it, and most likely, people won't want to read it.

2. Get on the web

What better way to find an audience for your work than to put it on the Internet?  If you're any good, and you promote your online comic strip carefully and persistently (but no spamming, please!), you will find an audience out there.  Online comic strips are growing in popularity, and believe me, there's always room on the Internet for more good comic strips.  But, don't expect the Information Superhighway to be paved with gold, either.  Very few online comics are making any money, and fewer still are earning a living for their creators.  That sort of success can be a long time in coming, and takes a great deal of talent and dedication.

In addition, here are a few quick pointers on making a good web page for your strip:

1. Keep it simple, stupid! - Your main page should have as little as possible on it.  Don't clutter it up with all sorts of animations, music, etc.

2. Where's your strip? - Your latest strip should be one of the first things readers should see when they visit your site.  They shouldn't have to scroll down your page, or jump to another section to read it.  The more obstacles you put between your potential readers and your latest strip, the less likely they'll bother to look for it.

3. You archives are your friend! - Make sure your archive system is easy to use and navigate through.  If readers have a tough time wading through your archives, many of them won't bother.

3. Remember, doing a regular comic strip is a commitment!

That is, it's a commitment if you want your readers to keep coming back.  A website that's sporadically updated will have a much harder time keeping a regular readership, if that's what you want.

And, while your strip should be fun to do, it will also take a lot of effort.  It seems to me a lot of would-be cartoonists go in to their comic strip projects with a lot of enthusiasm, which quickly wanes once they realize how much work a comic strip can be.  In truth, if you have a full-time job, or are a student, or have a life of some sort (unlike myself), I really don't recommend that you try to do a daily comic strip, unless you honestly think you can handle it.  I'd recommend publishing your strip maybe 2 or 3 times a week.  Trust me, you'll want to have some spare time outside of your job (or school) and your strip (though I am in awe of those cartoonists who are able to maintain a full-time job and do a daily strip as well).  I also recommend working a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, to allow for time off and such.

What can I do to help you, the creator of Bruno the Bandit, earn a living at this?

Actually, this question isn't as Frequently Asked as I would like. :-)  But your help in making Bruno successful for me is always appreciated.  Hope you'll consider buying a book or a T-shirt if you like what you see here.  And I hope you'll continue to recommend Bruno the Bandit to anyone you know who you think might also enjoy the strip.  At the very least, I hope when you're here you'll take the time to click on the odd banner ad that appears above my strip each day.  Click-thrus mean a wee bit more money for me, and these ads help Keenspot and me pay the bills around here.

But as always, most importantly, thanks for reading!