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Don’t Break Up the Party!

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Big news! The first chapter of the story that Jen Van Meter, Marissa Louise, and myself created together is out today! Find it here and buy it!

She Dwarf appears in this romance story as a character that is being played in a college role playing game. I was kicking ideas around with Jen when she asked me to collaborate on this with her, and I had the basic idea for the story and said that I wanted to use She Dwarf in it. Shortly after starting the romance story, I started getting the ideas for the webcomic. The release of this issue of Fresh Romance was delayed somewhat, and this webcomic was supposed to start running after the final chapter of the Fresh Romance story had come out. But, such is life, and I wanted to launch the webcomic on my birthday.

So if anyone really wants it spelled out, there is no direct tie in between the Fresh Romance story and Savage Beard. The Fresh Romance story occurs in a parallel reality where the King’s Road is a campaign setting and RPG rule set, and She Dwarf is a character that Dell rolled up when they moved to college.

Muscle Hawk says, “There is NO crossover, whatsoever!”

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Don’t Break Up the Party! published on

The First She Dwarf Comic

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In last week’s post, I mentioned that in August of 2014, I drew the first sketch of She Dwarf. About a month later, I took the character for a test drive in the comic shown above. This was for a comic tutorial that I made specifically to demonstrate the proper method of having figures from one panel cross into another panel. But honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to draw this character ASAP.

I was so happy with the result. I was thinking about doing a whole mini comic of single-page, pencil-only, wordless stories about She Dwarf. But as time rolled on, I began to think of how that approach might minimize the kind of story that I could tell with this character, while also minimizing the size of the readership who would be interested in it.

As a creator, I’ve struggled to find my voice and place in the maelstrom of internet cartooning. A big part of that struggle has been admitting that I make needless philosophical stands in my work as a defense mechanism. I’ll give you an example. If I draw a pencil-only webcomic, and nobody reads it, I can just shrug it off and say, “Well I guess readers just aren’t sophisticated enough to understand how and why I’m using the tools to create my art.” You see what happened there? I made the decision that I knew would be unpopular, then blamed my inability to connect with a wider readership on them specifically to preemptively distort the interpretation of the unpopularity. I was defending myself from a result that I was intentionally building? Think about it, what if I had put all the effort of making a thing that looked finished (inked, colored, lettered, had a regular release schedule), but still didn’t connect with a readership? Wouldn’t that make me a failure? If I make a great looking thing, and it’s not popular, shouldn’t I stop making things?

HELL NO!

The first and most basic reason to make something is that I want to make it. The joy is in the making itself. If I can first enjoy the making, then I will succeed regardless of the end result. The only way I can fail at making She Dwarf is to lose track of the joy I find in the making, which has nothing to do with how many people like it and how much the RT about it.

Secondary to that primary joy, is the joy I find in saying something with my art. This is where things get complicated, because the joy in saying something comes from being heard. I can’t know for sure what I will do with She Dwarf if it never grows an audience. But for now, I really enjoy sharing what I enjoy making. I have a lot of things that I want to make and say with this strip, so I expect to be at this for while.

Lali-ho!

The First She Dwarf Comic published on

It’s the beards.

This is where I got the idea for She Dwarf.

The first book I read on my own and enjoyed was “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien. It swept me away into my first of many fan obsessions as a stupid teen cutie. At some point, there was talk of constructing a built-in cabinet in the middle of a mural of a hobbit house in my bedroom. Looking back, I’m super grateful that stupid teen cutie Kyle was also lazy.

A couple years later, in 2002, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” was released with the following scene in it:

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In the scene, Gimli the dwarf was talking about the confusion around dwarf women, and Aragorn said it’s because they had beards. Everyone laughed about it, gleefully embraced strict gender norms, and moved on. But friends, I never moved on. I thought the idea of 3ft bearded, lady barbarians was one of the coolest ideas I’d ever heard.

Much later, on August 25th, 2014, I drew the following doodle:

first she dwarf drawing

For the last 18 month, I’ve been trying to scoot projects around and think of a way to tell the story of this tiny hammer-wielding bad ass.  So here we are.

Perfectly good ideas are laying around everywhere, even in garbage reductionist jokes that weren’t even said by those characters in the SOURCE MATERIAL PETER JACKSON IMLOOKINGATYOU!  Creativity isn’t about creating a brand new idea, it’s about combining old ideas in a new way.

It’s the beards. published on
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It is Launched!

For the past 3 years, I kept telling myself I’d commit to a long term webcomic on my birthday. This Saturday, I turn 31. I’ve been a cartoonist for 9 years, and an amateur for most of that time. Belief in oneself is an expensive birthday gift, and it’s apparently taken 3 years to save up enough for it. I’m excited and terrified to bet on myself, to go all in on a comic that I am writing, drawing, inking, coloring, marketing, and ultimately selling on my own. I do this to myself with skeptical optimism informed by a broken heart. The world and the future are always inescapably hopeless unless we find the strength insist that they are not. She Dwarf is about that.

She Dwarf, at it’s core, is about the naiveté of doing something difficult without understanding how much it takes. It’s about starting something good for all the wrong reasons. It’s about buying wisdom at the price of mistakes made in ignorance. Also, it’s about dragons and barbarians and dwarves and junk. I hope you like it.

It is Launched! published on