Bloglog

Originally it was my intention not to write anything on this site: it would be strictly comics. But then there came the urge to update the site, to give it more mass and depth and most importantly, to explain myself. That is quite a dilemma to me, since I do think that explaining your jokes is pathetic but then again, babbling about your creations is sort of liberating.

And people like to get a peek behind the scenes, so why not write a sub-blog about drawing food comics in my food comic blog? Some background information about the comics and updates about updating couldn’t harm anyone, I guess. Of course, it’s a completely another issue, whether writing or reading about the comics is interesting.


Black Holes and Revelations
February 9th, 2008

So, it’s two years of Partly About Food now. Or the anniversary was already on Monday, but due to very uninteresting reasons, it went unannounced at the time. There’s a comic about the anniversary coming up, but not today, because I spent my drawing time talking on the phone about mortgages and writing this little essay.

The second year in the history of this website probably wasn't the most glorious one, and - inspite of my best intentions and ambitions - I can’t guarantee that the third year will be much better. When you are a person with a wife, child, full-time job, social life, bunch of other distracting hobbies (i.e. gaming, beer and sofa-testing), and on top of it all you suffer from a strange and profound aversion towards labour of any kind, you aren’t very likely to be the world’s most productive comic artist.

Excuses, ad infinitum. I’m lazy and that’s just not going to change, but I do aim to improve from the current level of productivity. One big reason to do so is that I really like the story Deadly Mushrooms, which will be the main feature of this site for a long time. If I manage to pull it off the way I have imagined it in my head, it will turn into an entertaining and insightful story. Anyways, even if posting frequency during the second year of Mostly About Food has been embarrassingly low (and I have lost some 60 % of my readers because of that), I still don’t see it as a complete disaster. I feel that I have improved at least artistically and the style has evolved into a more innovative and web-friendly direction. That’s gotta count for something, right?

And now for something slightly different. Namely, I had a revelation the other day, while I was going to get Axel home from daycare. It suddenly dawned on me, why much of the comics that are aimed at a mature audience never really become huge sellers and mainstream in the same manner as books and films do. And why comics just don’t make a break with grown-ups. Namely, a lot of the mature (as in not just for kids, I’m not talking about porn here) comics are only mature in relation to most other comics: The Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen may be very deep within their own context, but for most people, who otherwise find it very entertaining to read and watch fictional books and movies, the problem is in the subject itself, i.e. superheroes. A lot of people find the concept of superheroes so incredible and juvenile that they dismiss any stories based on superheroes just because of that. I am not saying that, for instance, Watchmen isn’t a great piece of sequential art and/or fiction (because it IS), but comics like that aren’t attracting any new adults into the world of comics. Watchmen is great for those, who have read a lot of (different) comics as a youngster and just didn’t give it up when they started to work.

The relative maturity isn’t limited only to superhero comics. Let’s consider, for example, Tintin and The Blue Lotus. It is a lot more serious work than any Tintin’s adventures before it and it does bring up very boldly and clearly some – at least at the time - uncomfortable issues. But, taken out of its reference group (other Tintin books and adventure comics), it doesn’t necessarily stand out as an overwhelmingly deep and insightful criticism of European-Japanese colonialists’ exploitation of China.

A lot of comics that aren’t made for kids have elements of incredibility, psychedelia, fantasy and strangeness, which for some reason isn’t very popular among most grown-ups. Some of the comics are so artistic and convoluted that they are difficult to understand. For instance, I really enjoy the mind-numbingly sexy women and situations in Milo Manara’s comics, but I just don’t get what they are all about. Of course, there are exceptions, like From Hell, which is very credible and a thousand times more captivating conspiracy theory than The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons put together. So it’s not like comics are superficial by definition. But I’d assume that comics like From Hell suffer from the obscurity of comic books in general. (It probably doesn’t help that some of them are turned into movies, which are a lot more cartoony than the comics themselves) The bottom line is, a great big share of comics for grown-ups don’t get through to the intended target group, because they see the whole medium as immature and incredible.

So, how does this go together with the success of, say, Harry Potter? Well, I would guess that a lot of adults have been tricked into reading the books because that’s all their kids can talk about. But more importantly, a book – as opposed to a comic book or magazine – seems to be a more grown-up way to entertain oneself, no matter the subject. Somehow it just isn’t as embarrassing to admit having read Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, than getting caught reading Elfquest.

How are we to find new adult readers, then? I don’t know. Why do kids stop reading comics at some point? Is it because the mainstream comics are so heavily based on superheroes and Disney characters that they aren’t exactly aware of the more mature stuff? Or don’t adults have the time to really concentrate on a comic book? Are mature comics so much harder to read than detective stories? Or is it because a lot of the comics people read as kids are funny, so people keep on reading the funny comics even as grown-ups? Having never been exposed to more serious comics at an early age makes it harder to find those comics as an adult, maybe? The humour thing might be one of the reasons, because when I think of strip comics, there is a whole bunch of very succesful comics for mature audiences. Like Dilbert or Baby Blues– you can’t really get most of the jokes in them without ever having had a job or children.

Maybe it’s just a matter of marketing. Today there is no point in making a lot of noise about a comic book, because it’s just not going to sell ten million copies worldwide. But why could it not be changed? Why not make a long-term marketing commitment to comics, just to increase the awareness of the general public? So, you spend a ginormous amount of money in marketing comic books that won’t make it to any newspaper’s bestseller list, but it just might lead to the concept of comic book pushing its appreciation and accessibility closer to ordinary books and then we would have a new mainstream medium with a lot of potential. As in earnings and the the prospect of which, I am sad to admit, are a crucial part of pushing any product to the people.

Maybe it is so that marketing budgets of a necessary scale to reach the critical mass just don’t exist. I am not discussing this because I am unhappy for not making any money out of comics – if I worked hard enough on it, I possibly could earn a part of my living from them. I am just bothered by the fact that a lot of people are unaware of or deliberately dismissing a whole lot of good art, documentary, fiction and entertainment for no good reason. I can’t see it, why comics and especially comic books for adults should forever remain marginalized, only to be enjoyed by live-action role-players and other daydreamer freaks like myself.

What are we going to do about it?

PS: Here's a (relatively old) picture of someone who really likes his food and never minds the comics:

Renfield, bring me my supper at once!

 

Deadly Mushrooms, Chapter 1: Bullet in the Head
November 27th, 2007
 

The first chapter isn’t even close to being finished yet, but I still wanted to write a couple of words about it. Right now it doesn’t seem very food-related, but just bear with me, we’ll get there.

Originally I wanted to maintain a certain level of realism to this story, but after having talked to an actual police officer, I had to give up much of that. The way the police works in real life just doesn’t fit very well into this one, so I have to make up my own standard operating procedures for Copenhagen City Police Dept. As it seems now, the only factual element of the story will be the environment – an existing city named Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

The inner workings of the characters will be discussed later. I can reveal so much that I have named pretty much every character (except detective Kofoed) after people I know, although first and last names are mixed. But that is not to say that I’d copied their personalities in those characters as well... That is to say: any likeness or connections to real people, live or dead, is strictly coincidental.


My Favourite Poison
October 14th, 2007

It’s pretty painful to admit that finishing this little comic took me over four months. That’s one third of a year. I’ve already tried to come up with excuses for my laziness, so let’s not get into that anymore.

Even though this one is merely 22 panels long, it’s been a motherfucker to draw. I drew only quick sketches, if that, on paper and then built the pictures in the computer with a drawing pad. That was a whole lot of work, even if I cheated by drawing on photos in some cases. I don’t think, I’ll try to do pictures like these in future – it’s way easier to draw stuff with clear, thick outlines on paper, scan and then colour them in PaintShop. Or then I need to buy a drawing tablet with an in-built screen.

The story isn’t really that much about coffee, as it is about the difference between Monday and Sunday – and how my spring was like. Every morning you do the same thing, but some days it’s just not at all the same.

I found it suitable to add an alternative version of this comic. Just in case someone doesn’t appreciate the rollover feature, or it for some reason doesn’t work for someone.

 

AutoReply: Kalle Räihä has been out of office for quite a while
August 27th, 2007

As one may have noticed, there has been absolutely nothing going on at Mostly About Food for two months now. It is a little embarrassing, but I just haven’t had the energy to draw anything in a while. July was vacation and I’ve been on paternity leave with Axel in August, and let me assure you, it’s a lot of work. He wants his porridge at 0700 hrs and finally agrees to fall asleep around 1930 hrs, at which point I am completely exhausted. We can barely stay awake long enough to watch a movie after the boy goes to sleep, so I haven’t even given much thought to doing any drawing in the evenings.

But now I’m slowly trying to catch up with the comics again. A few more panels to the one that I started in June. I really should have finished it back then, because the story takes place in May (it doesn’t matter yet, but springtime will have a small role in it later on). I will try to finish this story as quickly as possible, so that I can get started with a really cool, album-lenght story some time in September. You’ll see, if you just can stand to wait for an indefinite while.

 

Boudin Noir
May 3rd, 2007

The drawing and publishing of this particular comic has taken a very, very long time for a number of reasons. To be more precise that number is three. The first one is, as mentioned before, my disproportionate work load. The last month or two I just haven’t had the time, strength or opportunity to draw much. But that part will be fixed promptly.

The second reason is the length of the comic itself: weighing in at a whopping 65 individual panels, it is by miles the longest comic that I have drawn for this page so far. So actually, since it is almost three times bigger than an average four-page, +/- 24-panel, one-page-a-week MAF-comic, it is only naturally that it takes almost three months to finish it.

The third reason, and the excuse for the irregular posting schedule is my decision to publish this one in four varied-lenght chapters, instead of one page per week, as is customary. Since it is an action comic, I wanted each chapter to end with some kind of a cliffhanger.

But the explanation to the comic itself? Why all the guns and the blood and the gore? To be completely honest, originally my ambitions as a comic artist had nothing to do with food comics. I wanted to draw and write adventures, full of action, sex, violence, surprising plot twists and witty criticism of our modern society. I wanted (and still want) to make the new Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen, only without superheroes. But captivating, tough and tight stories. The only problem is that I don’t have a single idea for such a comic – at least not one worth putting into reality.

But the urge to draw action comics couldn’t be pushed down any longer, which is why I had to find a way to make one, and still keep it food-related. Enter Boudin Noir: even the name of the sausage sounds like a hard-boiled detective story from the fifties and it is made out of the most important ingredient in macho-action, i.e. blood. As for the rest of it, there isn’t really much to explain. Killer pigs are pigs, the basic source of pig blood. If you want to see them, and their conflict with the female lead character in a deeper context, as a part of some feminist manifestation (or chauvinist, after all, she turns out to be a sick bitch, who has an affair with a rich hog), then be my guest, but in the end of the day, the story is just as simple as it seems: pigs are chasing her, she kills a lot of them, goes to a fancy restaurant, reveals her true nature and has boudin noir for dinner.

Which, by the way, is something I have never had. Not once have I tasted boudin noir. It’s not that I have a big problem with eating blood (it’s not my favourite, either, but that could be blamed on the blood pancakes that we got in elementary school), but I just haven’t been exposed to boudin noir, nor have I sought after it very eagerly. I will fix this shortcoming a-sap.

In other news, as of tomorrow and until next Friday, I am participating in Socrates Teacher Exchange Programme, which means that my employer is sending me to hang out with the people of Universidad de Malaga in Spain. I expect to gain another 5 kilos from all the tapas, rioja and cerveza that I am about to consume there. Muy bien, muy bien by me, indeed. Hasta luego!


Buried
March 17th, 2007

I have had all kinds of reasons for not updating the site with new comics, but never before this one: work. I am currently buried in work. For the next couple of months I am teaching some 30 hours a week in seven different courses, many of which are new to me. So there is plenty of preparation work to do. Plus, there are all kinds of reports, exams and assignments to read, correct and evaluate. This means that I do work related stuff every evening and all weekends. I don’t mean to complain, even though having to work that much is a bit new to me and it is annoying. (Deep inside I feel it’s only fair that I sometimes have to make an effort to earn my pay – if only the load was a bit more evenly distributed) As much as I’d like to, there just doesn’t seem to be time to draw right now.

But it’s not only comics that suffer because of my job. It also affects my cooking to such an extent that, at times, I no longer think of cooking as a hobby or a passion, but – gasp! – as a chore. Cooking has turned into a necessary evil that takes up time from everything else and thus merely increases my level of stress. Joanna needs proper food – especially since she is breast-feeding Axel – so I just can’t stop cooking for a month and let us live on take-away pizza and such. Planning and making the day’s dinner used to be the highlight of the day; my moment of creativity and accomplishment... (sob)

I really hope things get back to normal around May. Latest. I’m sorry for the slow pace (again!), but believe me, I haven’t forgotten about these comics, so there will be an update reasonably soon. In the meanwhile, you are urged to keep on truckin’!

 

Mostly About Axel
February 3rd, 2007

It’s now 9 pm in the evening, and I don’t have anything ready for tomorrow’s celebration of the first anniversary in the life of Mostly About Food. I had a ton of things planned, but half of them didn’t work out and the rest of it just hasn’t been done. Instead of drawing a birthday comic today, I wrote a rant, which I even myself can’t quite understand, what it really is about. I’ll probably manage to put up some half-assed semi-comic up tomorrow. It really bothers me that my head is literally bulging with ideas, but my inspiration to draw anything is close to zero.

My complaining about my laziness and lack of drive must be pretty tiring to read. It seems to be the main theme of every other article on this page. I extend my sincerest apologies for my lack of spine and for constantly writing about it. It just helps dealing with the problem.

But that is not to say that I would be on a bad mood. Quite the contrary, I am a very happy man. The first time, I wrote about our son, Axel, I may have seemed less than thrilled about him: he used to scream all the time and we didn’t get any sleep. Things have changed a lot since then. Well, to be honest, he still wakes up quite often at night, which means very little sleep to his mother. But as for the rest of it, he is simply adorable. I want to eat him - by the way, isn’t it strange, how at times, when you get really excited about your child, you think about eating him? Not like spit-roasted, but... you know what I mean, don’t you? There must be some psychological explanation to that reaction, for pretty much everyone I know says so to their (grand)children: mommy will eat you!

I’ve always liked children, but I have to say that my own little boy is so beautiful that it hurts. It sometimes feels very odd to look at something so precious – like I would turn into Gollum... Sure, relationships between grown-ups can be very deep and meaningful, but never before has someone elses well-being been such a crucial part of my own existence. As often as I am glad for his smiles and the funny noises, he makes, I feel this crushing weight on my shoulders, caused by the constant worry: “I just wish everything goes well, I just hope nothing bad happens.” I know that all this worrying is mostly unnecessary: Axel is a healthy boy, he has two loving parents and he lives in one of the wealthiest and safest corners of the world. But he’s just so small. At the moment he is just realizing that he has hands, which he can use to grab stuff. Thinking about that doesn’t make me very convinced that he will ever be able to manage on his own. And those thoughts make me understand my parents a bit better. Now I can sort of understand, how my mom sees me and my older siblings.

Naturally, all of this is self-evident to any parent and uninteresting to anyone who doesn’t have a child. I just find it a bit interesting – crossing the border from the point where a parent proclaiming the same old “I’d do anything for my kid” would bore me to tears, to where I am today, having all these feelings that weren't there before. I just wish everything goes well, I just hope nothing bad happens.

Here’s a picture of Axel, from his christening some six weeks ago.


The Insanely Authentic Tiramisu
February 3rd, 2007

Maybe the joke in this one just isn’t that clear or good, for a number of people have been asking me, what this is about. It’s not an advertisement for Italy, it’s just a parody on one of the stereotypical fantasies people sometimes seem to have about the country, its food and its culture. Sure, there’s plenty of good food to be found in Italy, but they have McDonald’s over there, too. And you can drive around the valley of the river Po without ever meeting father Camillo, or mayor Peppone. What I mean to say is that all those romantic, distant places in books, films, commercials, food and travel shows just don’t exist as such. (Just in case you didn’t know...)

On the other hand, I’m not saying that it’s just the same, if you use bland, mass-marketed ingredients full of weird additives or first-rate organic stuff. It’s just that sometimes all this foodie raving about this and that rare and expensive food item is superficial bullshit. In the end of the day, a wagyu steak will taste pretty much like one made of local beef. I assume, never having tried Kobe beef, but it’s still beef, right?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I just feel that often a truly remarkable and memorable eating experience has more to do with the situation and the events leading up to the meal, than the meal itself. You know, like the same cheese sandwich will taste so much better if you have it on a sunny day at the beach, next to a girl in a bikini, than if you chew on it alone in your dirty, one-room flat. Or, to give another example, like when my friend Anssi and his family visited us last September: from the minute we got to our place from the airport to the point they went back home we either ran around the city in search of the right ingredients, or cooked them, or ate what we had cooked. The seven course dinner that we put together was, of course, nothing short of phenomenal, at least for us. I remember wondering at the time, whether some outsider, who would not have had anything to do with the preparing of the dinner, would have thought our mushroom raviolis were so fantastic. The fact that we had worked so hard on the food definitely gave it an extra flavour.

And then there’s the necessity of being hip, cool and up-to-date. A lot of people have heard of things that are the hottest cool right now, yet they have no idea, what the stuff is like. Therefore it’s often enough to create an illusion of... exclusivity, so that the upper middle-class can feel special. You know these people, the ones to whom it is very important to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag with LV stamped all over it, who will make a point of their wine being expensive (which is around 40 euros) and the vegetables being organic and bought from the finest delicacy store in town. These people won’t really care, what their dinner tastes like, as long as they are assured that not everybody can afford it. They have Italian design kitchens, where they slice pieces of o-toro with their Swiss high-carbon steel knives and smoke Cohibas while eating the fish. It is their all-consuming need to be original, unique and exclusive that makes them so overwhelmingly superficial, ordinary and mediocre, that they surely would not do well in a blind tasting with a Philadelphia tiramisu against one with Umberto’s mascarpone.

Oh, just realized that I’m ranting. You’ve probably gotten my point a long time ago. (And I’ve made myself seem like this angry and envious poor guy) So I will stop now and conclude by admitting that yes, I know that donkeys aren’t really that big. I just realized it while colouring the picture, but couldn’t be bothered to draw a smaller donkey or a larger man. Not that it matters, because the entire story is based on false images anyway.

 

Events of the End of the Week
January 15th, 2007

I just can’t seem to get any faster in drawing these comics. And this one was just a “remastered” version of an old comic! Well, enough about that. I can see that I haven’t written anything here in almost two months. It’s about time for some bloglog updates...

So, this one is a rather accurate description of what may or may not have happened (hope you’ll never read this, mom) during three days in August, 1997. The guy on the front page actually looks quite a lot like me. Although at the time I didn’t actually own a Stratocaster, I just couldn’t draw myself playing the guitar that I had, a cheap Charvel-copy by Westone, my first electric guitar.

A lot of you people might not know what macaroni mush is. It’s something my sister calls “mohno” in Finnish and I find it hard to translate. It’s macaroni, mixed with pan-fried ground beef and onion, plus a bag of frozen vegetables (peas, red pepper and corn; the standard mix in Finland). Mohno is served with kethcup. Simple, cheap and reasonably good, especially when you’re a poor student. I will get back to mohno / macaroni mush and its variants when I start drawing stories about student cuisine.

In order to protect the guilty parts, I will not give any further information about the first scene in the story. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t something I / we did frequently, which sort of made the whole pot-food-and-music evenings very special. Joanna told me to change at least Anssi’s name to something else, so that he – a man of irreproachable reputation – wouldn’t be associated with no-good drug abusers. I figured he wouldn’t mind.

Staying in bad habits, even if I didn’t smoke that much weed, I did go to the gun range quite often in 1995-1998. There was this gun dealer with an indoor range, where you could rent pretty much any kind of hand guns and shoot to your hearts content. We would always rent some large-caliber pistols and revolvers and blast away. The .44 magnum made the whole room tremble, which irritated the olympic pistol (.22 LR caliber = small) shooters to the point that we practiced in shifts. The gun range kept a record of their customers and if you went there often enough, you would be eligible to buy your own gun (the police wanted to see your record, of course). The place was closed after an incident in a similar shooting club in Helsinki, where a woman killed three others for no particular reason. I’ve heard that they are trying to open a shooting club again; it wasn’t illegal or anything after the incident, either, but their landlord, a large bank, terminated the lease contract in fear of new shootings, or something.

The event going on at the river bank is “The Night of the Arts”, which started out as a civilized one-night city festival with all kinds of cultural activities, but in a few years it turned into a boring street party with not very many people paying attention to anything else than beer in plastic cups. I guess they don’t arrange the night of the arts anymore in Turku: too little art, too much pissing in street corners.

In all honesty, the meatballs in the last chapter weren’t all that great. I remember them, because they were so large and therefore very hard to cook so that they wouldn’t be black on the outside and red inside. That evening taught me to roll smaller meat balls.

A number of people, none of whom are shown in the comic, are named in the sequence, where I’m trying to call for dinner company. At the time we were good friends with Joanna, but weren’t dating yet. We used to do things together, but she had a summer job in Helsinki, which was a bit of a drag. Then there was Hanna, on whom I once had a serious crush and we had a short relationship. We sort of remained friends for a while even after she dumped me in favour of her old boyfriend, whom she then soon left and found a new, serious (as in marriage-material) boyfriend. Maybe I have to draw a comic about her someday, because the whole thing felt a bit movie-like at the time. I really liked her, but I also knew that she wouldn’t hang out with me for too long. Which was exactly what happened. Tiina was my first real girlfriend. We were together for three years. As a matter of fact, we even got engaged, which now seems unbelieveably immature and stupid, but we were young, romantic and... immature and stupid. We broke up pretty quickly after we moved to the city of Turku to study. Lots of interesting, new people, and so on. It all went rather peacefully and so we kept contact even after she moved in with her new boyfriend – now her husband. And Danne, or Dan, was a friend of mine but we’ve lost contact. We were quite close, but then we weren’t in the same class anymore and both started to find new friends and then he did the classic stunt: find a girl and completely vanish off the face of the Earth. Why am I telling you all this? Don’t know, I just think it’s sort of part of the story. It’s a rather personal story, so some parts might need a bit more explanation (and isn’t that what this bloglog is for?).

The funny thing is that this is already the second (or actually, the first) comic with James Hetfield of Metallica singing in the last picture. Odd thing, considering that Metallica isn’t really my favourite band, maybe not even top three favourite, but very good anyway. Will the appearance of Mr. Hetfield in the end become a trademark of mine? THAT would be weird...

 

There’s something I'd like to tell you...
November 17th, 2006

So, now we are a little family. I just couldn’t let it go without some advertising. Funny, the day our boy was born, I didn’t feel too ecstatic, you know, like in films where the father runs out from the hospital, dealing cigars to everybody while screaming “IT’S A BOY!”. (for some reason, a lot of men seem to congratulate more sincerely if you get a boy) It all felt kind of overwhelmingly natural – apart from the child coming out by a c-section, but... Anyways, during these first four weeks of our acquaintance I have grown all the more excited about him and as clichéed as it may sound, I feel blessed.

And tired. He normally wakes up at 4 am and remains loud and angry up until six or seven. So sometimes, when people tell us to “enjoy this time when your baby is so cute and tiny” I want to bite their heads off. My wife even more so. She gets half of the sleep that I do, so she is going a bit mad at times.

Oh, yeah. He does have a name, too. For quite a long time I tried to sell the idea of naming him Jimmy Page, but she didn’t buy it. I found it very odd, that Robert Plant didn’t go any better. A lot of people in Denmark (and Finland, as well) are named Robert, so where’s the problem? But she did settle on Axel. Although she insisted on writing it with an “e”. (I knew she wouldn’t accept Slash anyway)

Did I already mention that I am tired? And I have apparently caught a cold. Which is probably why I forgot to go teach to my class today (very embarrassing, I can tell you). I’m sure I had some more thoughts on this baby-thing, but they’ve gone, so I’ll stop for now. Having children doesn’t apparently improve concentration.


The Lovely Woman at the Grocery Store
November 2nd, 2006

Later on I will draw and write an epilogue to this story, so I won’t tell you how it all worked out here and now. Like I said in “Digging the Archives”, I consider this comic my personal best so far, probably because it was very exciting to draw and give to the Lovely Woman. I can still remember, how my sister and a couple of colleagues were constantly asking for updates on whether she had contacted me and how she liked the comic.

But, nine years later, I have to say that the comic is not very well drawn. That’s what you get for leaving things to the last minute (my standard operating procedure). I still didn’t want to polish it up too much, just add some grey to make the characters stand out and to give it a little colour here and there.

Next one will be one called “Events of the end of the week”, which could be regarded as my first food comic, since there is pretty much cooking, eating and drinking going on. Yes, I am working on new comics, too, but it’s taking some time (of which – as stated quite a few times now - I am currently running a bit short).


Freddy Three Times
September 29th, 2006

Yes, a month per comic is a bit slow, but still (almost) keeping up with the original goal of one page a week. The relatively slow pace is still due to the new job and the time and effort it requires on my part. More on the implications of that later.

Like I wrote in the notes for “Winter Chops”, I wanted to add some sexy spice to the character of Ingela and now I feel she is going to the right direction. With the general society’s current obsession of healthy diets I often feel like a sinner, when I decide to use cream in my cooking (for the third time in the week). And creamy food is sinfully good, so therefore I find it best to have a person with questionable morality and discipline to present creamy cooking.

It seems somehow more rewarding to create and develop suitable characters around certain kinds of food or styles of cooking, than just trying to connect every food experience I’ve had to my own person. Therefore, the readers of MAF can expect to see more fictional characters in the future.

Although there is a slight dilemma with one of the people I’ve already created: namely the Licorice Hunter. I’m a bit puzzled about whether it is appropriate and in good taste to make (even an ever so benevolent and light) parody of the recently deceased Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. You see, the Licorice Hunter is supposed to go to wilder and more dangerous licorice-related adventures and he’ll wind up in all kinds of hazardous situations. The fact that Mr. Irwin was killed by a sting-ray while “on duty” might give a bit eerie background to the licorice adventures. I really don’t know what to do about it. Perhaps I could turn him into a more generic jungle adventurer, but then the story would lose its contrast: a lot of people don’t care much about crocodiles, but there’s this guy who jumps out of his boat into black water to catch one and show how nice and fun they are, versus a lot of people find (salt) licorice unappealing and/or obscure but here we have a man with a mission to prove their prejudices wrong, all the while maintaining that licorice is “harder to handle” than, say, M&Ms. The way things went for the real Crocodile Hunter, one’s expectations for the Licorice Hunter might be less positive. Meaning, the joke might not be funny anymore (if it ever was, but prior to the very regrettable death of Mr. Irwin, that was just a matter of script development). Maybe I just have to wait ten years before proceeding with the licorice stories...?

 

Ja må jag leva, ja må jag leva...
September 13th, 2006

On September 13th, 1974 at 16:20 EET I came to this world and here have I stayed ever since. Today, 32 years later that event was celebrated first by my wife handing me a nice and heavy Le Creuset cast-iron frying pan and then by us enjoying a crispy duck dinner at my second-favourite restaurant, Yan’s Wok (which will be reviewed sometime later). In addition, I didn’t have any lessons today, which felt like a birthday present after the 12-hour lecturing shift yesterday. The sky was clear, the air was warm, but there was the crisp element of autumn in it. Definitely not the worst day of the year. Special thanks to mom and dad!

What I have been eating lately
August 30th, 2006

Here’s one that doesn’t need much explanation (but I’ll give some anyway). It has the sloppiest writing so far, but then again, the whole idea was to quickly get a hang of the drawing tablet and skip the manuscript. I did get some new ideas about how to utilize the tablet and how to make the drawings a bit “cleaner”. These ones turned out very, very sketchy, probably because I didn’t do any sketching first. That could be fixed by drawing some quick lines in grey and then the final picture in black, on a new layer and then just delete the first layer, pretty much like with pencil and ink, but just faster (hopefully).

Unfortunately, lately I haven’t had much time to get used to the tablet or to draw anything with pens, either. The new job is taking quite a share of my time and energy and now I feel a bit guilty for neglecting the blog. I’m quite sure there will be some new stuff by Sunday, at least. Just bear with me, okay?

 

Pasta Pronto Pronto
August 13th, 2006

If the pasta wasn’t all that quick to make, neither was the comic about it. This one took me three weeks to produce! Apparently the production dept. is experiencing some difficulties in picking up the pace after the vacation...

This one is based on true events, from some three-four years ago, when I had just started to make my own pasta. It was a Wednesday and I had a strange idea about home-made pasta being just as quick to make as cooking dry spaghetti. I was probably under the influence of Jamie Oliver, to whom everything is “dead simple and quick”. I don’t remember the sauce that was made that evening, but we had our dinner pretty late. So late, in fact, that Joanna told me never to make my own pasta again on a weekday, after work. I could see her point, so I have been obedient on that one ever since.

The origins of the sauce are a bit more obscure. I don’t remember how I have come up with that, so it might be a result of deliberate product development for comics, or it can be that I have come to think something like it on a day when I have searched through the frigdge and freezer for something to eat. Although I seem to be quite dismissive to the sauce in the comic, I’d say it is a pretty good one. It’s just not awfully creative; mixing shellfish, dill, white wine and butter can’t be considered too revolutionary. But it’s good, so go ahead and make it yourself! (do people try a lot of recipes from food blogs? I am not very good in that, but constantly improving)


About the name
August 2nd, 2006

I suddenly remembered the other day, when I was checking my work computer for personal files to be taken home, how I came up with the describing, if a bit dull and uninspiring name for this blog. Namely, at first I was planning to draw comics about sex. Those comics were going to be named "The Man Who Thinks Mostly About Sex", which also would have been the name of the main character, loosely based on someone I know quite closely. The website was going to be named "mostlyaboutsex.com". The reason for me not starting to draw those comics were that they might have been a bit too personal and revealing, and that since I am not Gene Simmons, I don't have an endless amount of different and funny sex stories. Of course, some fifty per-cent of the stories would have been based on the experiences of my friends anyway, but still, in the end I didn't feel that I could keep the thing alive all that long. But since it was MOSTLY about sex, I wrote down all kinds of other thoughts that had nothing to do with sex and then it would have been a permanent gimmick, how The Man Who Thinks... wasn't really thinking about sex today, either, but something completely different. Like politics, traffic, terrorism, oranges and such.

Anyways, the name stayed on for some reason. I sort of like the laconic aftertaste of it. Maybe the Marketing Dept. would have preferred something like "The Food Comic Orgasmatron: Strip-sized deliciousness!" but that's not my style. It could also be that I wanted to have a bit more serious-sounding name for the site in order to take distance from the often presumed childishness of comics as a medium. I am very much for the establishment of comics as another, common, accepted and useful means of self-expression and distribution of information, along with writing, tv, theatre, radio, etc. That is why I like to steer clear of the most cartoony elements so abundant in a lot of mainstream comics.

But now you don't at least have to lie awake at night, wondering what's behind the name of your favourite food comic website. It's taken from an unborn sex comic website. Don't you think that makes MAF a bit more sexy? (or would you rather have read the sex comics? :D)


Back in the saddle
August 1st, 2006

So, the vacation ended on Sunday, after which I had my last day at work and now there’s a week before I start at a new job, which will be rather different from the old job. During the vacation I didn’t work quite as hard on comics as I had hoped, but there will be new material soon. I just need to buy a scanner, because I can’t use the one at my old workplace anymore. Today I bought a drawing tablet, which is an exciting little gadget. It’s not exactly state-of-the-art, but it will most probably turn very useful, once I get the hang of it. It’s a Wacom Graphire 4. And now I want a Cintiq 21UX. Maybe next year, or whenever I have gained sufficient funds and do not decide to invest them in a Les Paul Standard, red sunburst, which has been on the top of my wish-list for many years.

Anyways, our holiday was both busy and relaxing and the summer’s last strawberries from my parent’s garden were simply phenomenal. I feel sorry for you for not having the chance to taste them. On our last evening in Finland we cooked a dinner for our friends and everything else on the menu than the meat and fish originated from my parents plantation, which I found particularly satisfying.

Yes, I should draw comics about all that and not write about it here. I just wanted to say that I’m back - in the unlikely case you were wondering, when there will be any new comics.


Leaving on a jet plane
July 13th, 2006

We are leaving tomorrow for a two weeks' vacation in Finland. The food comic hungry population of the world should not expect to see too many updates on this site during that period. It’s not that I don’t want to publish comics on my holiday, but our location in the Finnish archipelago is so remote that there is no internet connection. It was only fifteen years ago that we got electricity there, so one can’t expect too much progress all that fast.

Anyways, wish me a sunny vacation and we’ll meet again in August!


The First Strawberry of the Summer
July 12th, 2006

This is the new personal favourite of mine. Or at least it's competing very hard with "Ode to Sushi". I am a bit of a nostalgic person so I like to think back to all the good old times: that's one of the rather few ways to make me emotional.

The story in itself isn't really based on a memory of a single day, but it is quite describing of a typical day on the plantation back then. Oddly enough, for some reason I left mom out of this story, even though she was always working there, too. It wasn't until early to mid-nineties that dad relieved mom from cucumber field duty (not that she didn't go to work there after that). I have actually planned a comic series, which takes a deeper plunge into growing vegetables, so be prepared for more stories from our summer place. Today the plantation is way smaller, because nobody in our family has much interest to work that hard to make some extra income. Nowadays it's just fun to go there with mom and dad, pick a little this and some that. At times some city people on bicycles stop by and ask if they can buy some cucumbers, only to become completely astonished when dad hands them a bag with four cucumbers, a few carrots, beetroots and sunflowers, all for free. You wouldn't believe how many thank-yous people can say for a little free flowers and vegetables. Dad, of course, is overjoyed when somebody admires his (or mom's to be correct) sunflowers and shows interest in his little garden. It's all fun to watch, while eating raspberries and some of the last peas, hanging from the near-dead stalks (we're usually there in August, you see). Hmm, why am I writing this here? Should I not spare it for another comic, or what? I really am a nostalgic person, getting all carried away... well, we are flying over there in just a couple of days, so the thought of the summer place, new season potatoes and strawberries straight out of the bush is constantly in my mind.

Drawing - or actually colouring - this one was a tough one. There was plenty of details and small stuff (plenty to me, not so for Geof Darrow, for example :o), which is why I was very fortunate to learn to use the colour replacer function in Paint Shop Pro. That makes colouring a lot faster and easier than using only paint bucket and pencil tools. Development, in baby steps!

Although the layout of page one went a bit wrong (all the short panels on the left and long ones on the right, if you didn't notice: panels three and four should switch sizes to make it right) I am rather content with this one. I feel that sense of progression again, which is comforting. Sure, it has a very conventional layout and artwork and it doesn't utilize the possibilities of computer technology in any way, but at least I feel that the story has a decent flow and structure. I think I will start making my comics more internet-adapted later in the autumn. Meaning, there will be (flash) animations, more clicking of pictures, moving backgrounds, sound and stuff.

By the way, did you count all the different animals in this comic? I'm not quite sure howa lark looks like, but that's the bird on the last panel of page one. I find it extremely enjoyable to watch a lark hovering above a field and to listen to its constant singing. Then it drops down, gets all quiet and after a while, goes back to hovering and singing mode again. I've never understood the meaning of it, but it makes the coffee and sandwiches that are enjoyed after work taste that much better.

 

Cookbook Awards
July 11th, 2006


It brings me joy to finally take part in an internet meme. Probably some day soon I will participate IMBB, too. It is good to have your own thing, but it’s also a lot of fun to play with the other kids on the block, which is why it has been bothering me that I haven’t been too quick to take part in different events, memes and discussions in the food blogging community. The problem is the light speed of the net and my snail-pace production of new material. I am considering very seriously buying a drawing pad or tablet or whatsitcalled, to speed things up a bit. So, the need to participate, to be an active member of the community was my main motivation to do this one.

On the other hand, I am not quite satisfied with the end result. At first I thought that mixing drawings, text and photos and making the layout more like in an “ordinary blog” could be exciting, but now I’m not so convinced of that. It is a bit disruptive. To step that far away from my usual style feels a bit like finding an unsuitably weird ingredient in your food (like raspberries in a chanterelle soup, for instance). Sure, there is no rule saying one can’t use photos or text paragraphs in comics, or that one has to place two to five panels next to each other before moving down is feasible, but this just doesn’t feel Right. I should have worked on it some more, done something to it. It’s the same feeling as when my experimental cooking doesn’t quite turn the way I had hoped for. And yes, I know it isn’t sensible to complain about your creations to your guests or readers but sometimes I just can’t help it.

I have also been quite tired lately, which may have played a part in my crappy writing. I feel like both my English and ideas have gone on vacation. And it disturbs me that my caricature of Anthony Bourdain doesn’t look like him at all (although it reminds me of someone, but who?). I should not try to cartoon actual people; I have never been good at it.

Well, this commentary is really starting to show how I need to get on vacation. Happily enough, in a couple of days I will. Then I can return with new energy, less self-criticism and self-depreciation and more traditional comics, which hopefully contain some recipes for a change...

 

One more small announcement...
June 26th, 2006

Yet another advertisement for a food-un-related comic, made by yours truly. (mis)information about Finland is published on the website of the Finnish Institute in Copenhagen. The main job of the institute is to raise the awareness of Finnish culture, art, music (classical and modern), dance, photography, you name it. So it's only natural that they want to have a comic about the country on their site. There is a link to an interview at the end of the comic. At its core, the comic series is (hopefully) a funny advertisement for Finland, playing on the assumption that a lot of people don't know that much about Finland and what they do know is false. And how that is making the oh, so obsessively self-aware Finns mad. We Finns worry about our image, only to find out that for the most of the world we don't have any image. Nobody knows, who we are or where we come from (now this starts to sound like "Stonehenge" by Spinal Tap... :o) My friend, Esa, who is also the director of the institute, gave me the idea of drawing this kind of comics for them. He got the inspiration from the Mohammed Cartoon Scandal earlier this year. He meant that if cartoons can cause so much misunderstanding, they could also be used to increase knowledge of other cultures. As the name of the series implies, it aims to do both: facts and straight bull. That's the current strategy to make the reader curious about the country and go see it for herself.

You can follow the development of that comic series by clicking the picture on the front page. New updates should turn up monthly. Expect more bears.


In other news...
June 26th, 2006

Yeah, well, this one won't mean that much to you unless you can Swedish. Sorry for that. As mentioned in the introductory comic, I will see if I can translate the comic to English and publish - at least parts of - it on this website. No, it is not exactly food related, but I don't think anyone would mind, if there were a link to it on far right. And, as stated in the introduction, there is a lot of drinking going on in that story, so it's not entirely irrelevant.

As a whole I am not quite sure what to think of the book. Yes, I am proud for having published an actual book, by an actual publisher and having seen the book being in use at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. That is - I assume - the no. 1 tech university in Sweden, so having people read your book there is something I tell everyone at the dinner table. On the other hand, the book project has been going on for such a long time and has been so troublesome that I am a bit tired of it. Here's how it all went:

After many problems, agreements, disagreements and rearrangements I was sent, as a participant in Site Management Research Project, by a research group at Åbo Akademi University, to this third-world country called Pobrestan in the book (for those of you with Spanish skills: yes, the name is deliberate and describing) for four months to work and observe at Star Diesel's (that - along with every other name is changed, too) gas/diesel power plant building site. That I did. Then, when I came back I drew a 108-page comic about the experience, based on the diaries I had written while at the site. The comic (originally in Finnish) became a sort of organic attachment to my master's thesis, which in turn passed with second-best possible grades in May 2000. (THAT made me a bit too proud, because hardly anybody gets an "Eximia" and absolutely no-one I've ever heard of has got a "Laudatur" - the best grade - for their theses)

So, I was glad for having experienced a great adventure and for being able to put comics in my thesis and thought, that's it, let's get on with the couple of exams I have left, take out the papers and move on to the big world. But then the research group proposed that the thesis should be reworked a bit and published as a book, to be used on project management courses. Of course I was thrilled. To be 26 years old and an academic writer! An author. Cool. What happened was that the biggest research co-operation partner of the research group, Star Diesel said "Over your dead body". The book offers at times a not very flattering picture of the project organization. Meaning, it is not very good PR for the company (which it evidently thought a research co-operation with a university should be). And we are talking one of the largest heavy-industry companies in Finland here. So, in order to keep the research work going, the professors put the book plans on ice and told me that it would only happen if we got a go-ahead from Star Diesel.

The fun thing was that the director at Star Diesel, who put his foot on the book, thought it was a very honest and useful story about that project. So he asked me to some as a guest speaker at their own project management seminars, and I was glad to accept the invitation. I experienced some more or less heated discussions during and after those presentations and after my last presentation I got the company's permission to publish the book. I went back to PBI to tell the good news. They told me to get it in written. I did that, sent them a copy of the agreement, and waited.

In the mean time (we're talking somewhere around 2002-2003 now) the research group had evolved from a research group within a university to a privately owned consultant firm. They were probing for some new customers and the chairman of the board thought it too risky to show them, what kind of material the consultants might write and publish about them. They also let me know that it wasn't really the core business of the firm to publish books. This I found somewhat insulting, the whole book thing being their idea in the first place.

Anyways, I was advised to contact professor Claes Gustafsson at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and see, if he could help. And that was exactly what he could. First, a manuscript of the book was chosen as one of the course books to their advanced project management course and I got to go there to lecture about it a couple of times. Then, last summer, if I remember correctly, he got me in contact with publishing company Liber in Malmö, conveniently just across the strait from
Copenhagen.

And now, it is done. Six years it took, but at least I can say to have published a book. I would like to see it translated to Finnish (because the comic is so much better in its original language) and English (for obvious reasons). I don't expect much income from it, but I'm eager to see if it succeeds to raise any discussion within project management studies, or something like that. I'm just going to have to sell it a bit more aggressively.

A long story, but now it's told. So you may understand, why I am a little tired of a 6-year old comic, the publication process of which has been stopped and revived quite a few times. In any case, I am very glad to have done it and I am most grateful to everyone, who's helped me to publish the book.

Like it was stated in the introductory comic, I will translate the prelude to the book, called "Diesel Power" and put it up on this site for you to read. More about that later.


Thai Esan One
June 19th, 2006

This is the one I mentioned in ”Varnish, Wine, Metallica...” being the comic I should have been working on, but which wasn’t very inspiring. For some reason, drawing this restaurant review was like pulling teeth. Maybe it’s that nagging feeling about how I draw too many comics where I play the leading role myself. After all, I am supposed to create more characters like The Licorice Hunter and Ingela of “Cream” series, keeping myself as a guest star only. Not happening anytime soon, vain as I am... Also, my memory didn’t serve me quite well enough, which is why I needed photos of the Istedgade/Halmtorvet area, the restaurant and the portion number 30. So we went there week ago, on Sunday for photo shoot and dinner. The actual story originates from a few weeks earlier, when we went there before going to Tivoli, on a beautiful spring day. Now I’m going to remember to take the camera with me every time we go out to eat.

This one has probably been the most work-intensive comic yet. It is three pages, 25 panels long and required a second visit to the restaurant and some photos to complete. I’ve drawn it over quite a long time, three weeks or so. Sunday last week, before we went there for our photo dinner, we rode our bicycles to the brand new Amager Strandpark, a very large and nice beach park close to our home. While we lay on our blanket on the grass (we don’t like to camp on sand), Joanna read a book and I sketched out the last ten panels for the comic. Every once and awhile I took a break to enjoy the view: shining happy people roller skating, walking, bicycling past us, sailboats, cargo ships, cruisers, landing planes, the Öresund bridge over the glittering sea, the Kingdom of Sweden on the other side of the strait and, of course, all the topless grandmas who were surrounding us (the topless pretty girls were further up north, on sand. I got a good look at them on our way home). And I couldn’t help wondering our good fortune and well-being. It was a gorgeous day, there was this magnificent man-made beach just a five minutes bike tour from us, and we were in no hurry to go anywhere and in a short while we would go to Paradis’ ice cream van for the best ice cream in town. The billionaires of this world could have all the yachts and parties with supermodels that they wanted, but I couldn’t imagine experiencing a more pleasant moment than what we had then. And entirely free-of-charge. Except the ice-cream, of course.

That’s getting pretty far off the point, now. ”Thai Esan One” is the first restaurant review on MAF and I’m planning on drawing plenty of them – as long as I can figure some twist to them. Drawing food portions is hell. Not as bad as hands, but trying to make a lump of rice and the sauce with all its ingredients to look believable and appealing isn’t fun. Also, trying to copy an actual scene from somewhere feels like working under constraints. I get all worked up, when a drawing should be somewhat realistic. That’s why I chose not to draw a panorama picture of Halmtorvet and made the picture from Istedgade more cartoon-y. Yes, it’s cheating, but that way I get my comics done!

I also wanted to add the Cosby Show title song to the last page, but didn’t dare because of copyright issues and because I didn’t think anybody would give me the permission to use it at such a short notice. So you’ll have to hum it yourself.


Kiss my RSS!
June 16th, 2006

So, now the monkey in charge of the tech dept. has finally managed to put up an RSS feed. Of course, it would never have been able to do it without help and guidance from some very smart friends, to whom the management sends a thank-you fruit basket. Or something in that direction.

For the moment the service is limited to RSS 2.0 but it will be improved as the tech monkey learns more about feeding. We're training it with bananas and electric shocks, so you can expect progress in the foreseeable future.


Comment me with your rhythm stick
June 11th, 2006

I’m really in doubt with this one. It starts out okay, but maybe the leather-bondage sequence in the end is a bit too... tasteless? unoriginal? I guess this is one of those situations, when a writer first feels that he has written something really smart and funny, but then breaks the rules and does not delete it. At first I thought the ”whip me” metaphor was funny, but now I feel it’s cheap and juvenile. Ah, well... you can’t get it right every time. At least the begging worked: a whole bunch of people has given a signal that they’ve read it. Although I think the heavy commenting on that one is mostly caused by my World Domination Campaign and that comic being the freshest one after the initial phase of the campaign. More about that below.


World Domination Campaign
June 11th, 2006

E-mailing a link to your site to all your friends and relatives and demanding them to forward the link to everyone they know doesn’t really bring all that many readers. Not even though they all would comply. I knew from the start that if I wanted to have such a number of regular visitors that would compel me to keep on drawing, I’d have to do something a bit more dramatic. Having some experience from sending comic-based job applications and other personalized comics to some people (we’ll return to this one day), I felt that sending a comic link-me-plea to my favourite food bloggers (whom I knew are popular) might help raise awareness of my site.

The plan worked beyond all expectations. Two of the blogs, Amateur Gourmet and Accidental Hedonist, published the comics they received on their websites and a third, An Obsession With Food wrote about it. Fourth one asked me if the comic I sent could be published on the blog, but it hasn’t turned up yet, but I'm quite sure it will. Only the fifth food blog, which didn’t really receive a comic as much as a single picture cartoon, hasn’t yet reacted in any way. In order not to press anyone to do something they for some reason don’t wish to do, I’m not going to say, which these blogs are. Also, I am not publishing the comics (at least now), because they were sort of personal pleas to each the specific bloggers, which means that they are free to keep them to themselves, if they please. Honestly, I mean it.

Anyways, then, after a couple of days I started to find links and articles about MAF on websites, which didn’t get any comics, like Slashfood. Great big thanks for that!

As is customary, I read the very positive comments about MAF on the above-mentioned blogs (many times, to be honest) and wrote a thank-you note in them. And I AM enormously grateful for the Link Love from such well-known bloggers, who quite clearly have all kinds of other business, than linking other peoples sites, too. I wrote on Amateur Gourmet that I owe Adam a dinner, if he ever comes to Copenhagen, but the same offer goes to Kate and Derrick as well! So, once more, thank you seven thousand times, it was very kind and helpful of you to link me and it might just make all the difference for the future of Mostly About Food.

Naturally, getting link love from some very popular sites caused an enormous rush of readers to my site, which felt nothing short of ecstatic. After surfing and lurking on the Internet for some 11 years, building up my own website and then, all of a sudden, have an inspirational number of readers is quite overwhelming. The pressure to produce more, better, faster comics is pretty big, so I am trying to create as much time as possible for MAF-related activities. This will apparently turn to demand quite a lot of commitment from my part. Well, if it keeps me away from my PS2, it will make my wife happy :o) Also, I’ve read the readers’ comments and you are dead right about the necessity of RSS-feed. It will be available as soon as the monkey, who’s in charge of the tech department (pays close resemblance to me, myself and I) gets his head out of his butt and finds out how to do it. Or gets an intelligent person to fix it. Several improvements are on their way. Just be patient.


Links
June 7th, 2006

Now I've finally added some links. Not that many links to other food blogs, one might notice. But then again, I don't read them all, so there's just a list of the ones I do read on a regular basis. Maybe someday I manage to penetrate into the food blogging society, which might increase my interest in checking out more food blogs. Maybe. But these are my current favourites.

Then there are the comic links. It was surprisingly hard to find decent links for many of them, like Iznogoud or Moebius sci-fi comics. Thank Pete for Wikipedia for having at least some information on most of these. Of course, many of them have had their golden days a long time ago, so they aren't featured too much, apart from some retro-lover sites. This is especially true for Tex Willer and Commando, which were popular in the 70's and 80's but I don't think there are many 10-year olds getting all excited about them today.... am I right? But I still find it a bit odd that some very well known comics have such a weak (official) web presence, like Frank Miller's "Batman" and Alan Moore's and Eddie Campbell's "From Hell". Of course, my inability to Google effectively could be a factor in not finding much useful information on popular comics. Feel free to e-mail me better links, should you come across such.

One of the web comic sites has struck me as really phenomenal, namely E-Sheep by Patrick Farley. It is really showing the potential of what web comics can be and could become. And it's so well done that I want to toss all my pens, papers and the laptop to the trash bin and then start to concentrate on the business-school-graduate jobs, as I am supposed to.

Why do I always feel stupid, useless and talentless every time I see something impressive? Should it not be inspiring? Would it not be more creative to just try to improve your skills whenever examining the work of someone, who is so much better than you? Maybe it's the realization that there is so much quality stuff out there, most of which will never emerge from their obscurity and reach a wider audience. Majority of people will live on happily with soul-free strips of Garfield in their newspapers, never once acquainting themselves with, for instance, Electric Sheep. Maybe it gives me that bad feeling, that if this stuff is more or less "underground", how am I, with my meager skills in art, writing, technology and structuring, ever going to find readers and/or a
publisher?

But then again, a completely mediocre product like the aforementioned Garfield can make it really big. So why wouldn't Mostly About Food? Not that it really needs to (in terms of money and fame), but some kind of popularity would be welcome. In any case, I strongly urge you to check at least the web comic links. I'll be adding more of them as time goes by.


Logo text
June 7th, 2006

You may or may not have noticed a change in the title: the unpeeled potato-shaped O and the orange half O's have stepped down to give way to the maki roll (think of it as some candy, if you don't like sushi) and the cherries. I'm going to keep on doing this kind of thing in the future. But I'll probably keep the sunny side up O.

Just FYI, there was also a slideshow, "Sandwich of the Month", if only briefly. It didn't really fit. I am not completely satisfied with the emptiness of the front page, but I haven't really figured out yet, what to fill it with. Right now I don't want to direct the readers anywhere else than to the comics themselves, or the extra stuff in the top frame. I'm trying to construct a new kind of slideshow, just to make the front page a bit more appealing.


Varnish, Wine, Metallica, Salami, Cherries, Cheese
June 3rd, 2006

This one is quite self-explanatory, if you can follow it, that is. I was home alone, got bored, started drinking, got the inspiration to draw drunken comics. The logic of an intoxicated person is a bit odd, indeed. Like the thing about varnish and smearing it on the kitchen counter: I didn't draw any pictures about it, but a picture of me standing in front of the fridge instead. I have no clue, why it went like that.

My aim was to draw as fast as possible in order to keep up with my mood. It didn't go as well as hoped, but it was fun anyway. The last page proved problematic: you shouldn't really draw anything that covers the whole page for a web comic. Now my sorry caricature of James Hetfield can't be seen in its entirety. I guess it's called learning by doing.

Oh, one thing. The little devils. They've been kind of my trademark for the last ten years or so. I wanted to paint a decorative board high up on my apartment walls with these joyful but nasty little demons. I never did that but they've appeared in my comics since then (most of those comics are still in my drawer, others can be found from the archives of the student organization at the Åbo Akademi business school). Normally they stand in the background, giving sarcastic comments or are just shown having a good time whenever someone else is miserable.


Comments
May 29th, 2006

And so the comments section is finally done, by the aid of Haloscan. Not quite optimal, but it does the job. I would have liked it the way it's on most blogs, i.e. after your article, in the same window. But the pop-up is quite as okay, too. This means that now you, my dear reader, can participate, give your views and opinions and most importantly, praise my clever, funny, educating and artistically impressive work!

 

Some Kind of Monster
May 27th, 2006

I just saw the film “Metallica: some kind of monster” on DVD and that was... uplifting? Seeing multi-millionaire mega-heavy-metal gods struggling with their work was sort of consoling and inspiring. They’ve sold zillions of records over the course of 20 years, are adored around the globe, can play a three-hour set comprised entirely of metal masterpieces and still they have all these issues, catfights, lack of self-esteem and all that. If the giants have hard time pulling their stuff together, then it’s no wonder I’m having difficulties in making progress. It has to be admitted, they apparently had a whole lot of personal shit to deal with, which I don’t because I had a happy childhood and I don’t do drugs. I’m a difficult person only because I like to consider myself some kind of genius, whose (undone) work is tragically unappreciated.

Another thing, I thought after the film: with music you’re in the moment, you don’t think about three songs further down the line, you just play and everything is revealed to you and your audience as it is done. Not so with comics. That’s probably why this feels so frustrating so often. Clearly frustration is a central theme in these writings of mine, but that’s just so ever-present in the comic-drawing process. You get your idea and want to do something about it, but it’s nowhere near completion and making it comprehensible to anyone else isn’t really fun, like playing guitar is. Drawing comics isn’t at all as immediate as, for instance, playing music. I get all kinds of other ideas while I’m drawing and start to panic, because I’m sure I’ll forget the idea while I’m drawing. Ideas are such elusive sons of bitches. Once I saw this billboard at the airport: there was a beach and somebody had written in the sand “I am your idea. Someday I will be gone”. The high tide was already threatening the letters. Now, it was an advertisement for some stupid consulting company, but it scared the living bejesus out of me. Actually, I think it was more of a reminder that I still haven’t worked on my stuff and if I don’t start with it soon, somebody else will do the exact same thing, or I’ll just get tired with the whole thing and wind up dealing with yet another unfinished project. It’s just... it’s just so unfair that you spend a whole week producing a two-page comic, which can be read in three minutes.

 

On updating
May 27th, 2006

The slow pace keeps on bothering me. Especially when I re-read The Amateur Gourmet's 1000th post about how to start a food blog. He says - and I believe it - that the key to creating a succesful food blog is to update often, preferably daily, if possible. Given the amount of time it takes me to draw a single page, it just can't be done.

But maybe I should cut myself some slack. As you may know, there are plenty of web comic sites, which are updated daily, but those are predominantly black-and-white strip comics with 1-4 panels each. That makes 6-24 panels a week (on Sunday you don't work). Then an average comic of mine with some 10-24 panels pretty much represents a week's worth of comics (especially if they are in colour). So, a one-two page story a week wouldn't be nothing to be ashamed of. If it only were so... No, I'm not starting that discussion again, you've heard it all before.

One possibility to increase the updating frequency could be a build-up. To publish the stories three-four panels a day. Not the most elegant way to do it, since I don't do my comics in handy, semi-independent strips, but it could force some readers to check the page every day for further development in the story. In the near future I might structure some stories to be easily "buildable" and see if it works.


Bruxelles: Pommes Frites et Bandes Dessinees
May 15th, 2006

Just back from visiting friends in Brussels. It was a very pleasant trip. Of course, we had some waffles and French fries with mayonnaise and, yes, Vincent Vega is right: they drown them in that shit. Though I like it. We also went to a fun Japanese restaurant in Leuven, but that I might need to turn into a comic.

But now I want to talk about the experience I had at the comic museum in Brussels. As many of you might know, much of the comics we regard as French are actually Belgian (just like the fries), most notably Tintin. And Lucky Luke. And many others, of which I’m still not quite sure. So there was a lot for a comic enthusiast to see. One of the first things that hit me was the same feeling that I got watching the Led Zeppelin DVD. Namely, envy and defeat. I will never reach that level in my work. Not in fifty years, i.e. in this life. Many of the artists are/were just that good. But it doesn’t bother me that much, I just keep on drawing and writing in my own style and try to develop it.

But the funniest thing was the revelation I had while looking at the various French and other European comics. I knew most of them from before, but had not seen pages from all of them on display in the same place and that lead me to figure out the formula for a classic, French-European comic album: A) the story takes place between 1900 and 1970, preferably in the 50’s B) the artwork is either very detailed or very stylish or both C) there are some supernatural or mystical features or dream sequences D) there are always some sexual themes present and they are obvious, but it’s seldom really porn as such E) most women are elegant, their breasts are perfectly shaped and sooner or later, you will see them. I left the exhibition inspired and horny. I stared at a blowjob scene (where they really don’t show anything explicit - for all you know, she might be taking a bite from a sandwich) from Biloxi Blues for at least five minutes. I really like it, when I see some naughty stuff, but it’s not as mechanical and in-your-face as in an average porn film. That’s probably why I also like the rock lyrics of sixties and seventies: “I don’t care what the neighbours say, I wanna love you each and every day”.

Talking about staring at comics, I remember lying on my parents’ sofa, gazing at the cover of Will Eisner’s Spirit album no. 1 (a Finnish edition) with Spirit and the gorgeous Sand Saref on a deserted island. I had never seen a real woman as desirable as Sand. Was I not married, I might have replaced the “had” with “have” in the previous sentence...

 

Ode to Sushi
May 10th, 2006

I have to say, I really like this one. The idea was to make a bit bittersweet story, where you are glad to have your sushi, but slightly unhappy because you realize what an amateur you are and how you are not going to experience some truly amazing omakase sushi mastery anytime soon. At least the amateurish approach is very much complete: as stated in the front page, the small poems are clumsy pseudo-haikus, since I don’t know how to write real ones and can’t be bothered to learn. Also, my Japanese woodblock print imitations are quite grotesque, but that is what you can expect after an afternoon of studying the issue. Even the Japanese calligraphy presented here is pure nonsense, or at least I hope so. I chose arbitrarily some signs found in a Roland synthesizer module expansion board instruction manual, and tried to reproduce them with my paintbrush. Not exaggeratingly elegant, but appropriate, no? It would be great if I in my ignorance had written something really silly or profane in Japanese...

The point of the whole thing is that both in the world of sushi and sequential art I have the will but suffer from serious shortage in knowledge and skills (don’t mean to sound too self-depreciating here, but there is a lot of room for improvement). But one day, maybe not next year or even then next, but one day I will enjoy the scenery with Mount Fuji in the background, admiring the unfamiliar though harmonic interior decoration, music, scents and manners, excited out of my mind of what’s to come...

 

Simple faces
May 10th, 2006

I've finally realized something about comics and why many of them are drawn in a rather simple manner. The single most troublesome and work-intensive issue about making comics is drawing the same faces and bodies all over again, from different angles. That's why it is very hard to keep a face somewhat similar to the one presented in the first panel it appeared. And the difficulty of drawing people in varying angles and face expressions easily tempts the cartoonist to use very simple figures, like in Peanuts, Dilbert or almost any other popular strip (interestingly, the makers of Modesty Blaise seemed to have solved this problem by having every female character look quite similar to Modesty and every male look like Willie).

It's the faces that are most difficult to draw. That's why even some otherwise very impressive comics tend to have very simply drawn people. Like Tintin: the houses, cars, airplanes and such are drawn with great detail, but the characters - most notably the hero himself - aren't quite as complex in their physical appearance. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing Hergé or Tintin here, I love the comics, but I'm just stating... a fact?

Naturally, not all comics have cartoony people. Like Lieutenant Blueberry, for instance. I just don't get it how Giraud could have produced all those stories with such a fine artwork. Hard Boiled (drawn by Geof Darrow) is another one. I might not be great fan of the story itself, but the sheer amount of skill and work that has been put into those albums is plainly stunning.

Where am I getting with this? Nowhere. It's just that I got a bit frustrated the other day and was cursing the repetitiousness and the difficulty of drawing different expressions on the same faces. Not that I mean to imply that my characters have complex features, it's more like, I'm not smart enough to create characters with clear features that are easy to mold and reproduce. Anyways, in my frustration I realized why most comics look the way they do: to make drawing them easier. It's just a bit weird that I haven't given this much thought earlier. Now I'll start studying faces and expressions and hands and all the different ways you can bend your body, as well as trying to create faces with recognizable and easily copied features. And then learn to pay attention to those features and stick to them.


Blah blah blah II
May 5th, 2006

This is so far the low point of Mostly About Food. Updating once a month, what's that supposed to mean? Not once a week, as intended, not even twice a month. One comic in April and then another one a month later... Well, yeah, I was on vacation around Easter and worked on some other comics and other features for this site, but still.

Maybe I wouldn't be as disappointed with myself if much of my time away from the drawing board had not been dedicated to a certain character named Snake. You see, he is the star of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is a video game I got a couple of months ago and can't let go of it. Now I've played it through twice and the urge isn't all that strong anymore, but it's not completely gone. It's a great game, I can't understand why I didn't get it straight away when it came in 2004. Then it wouldn't have disturbed my drawing activities now.

Why am I explaining this to you? Being smart and sensible people with intelligent hobbies, you don't even know who Snake or what a Metal Gear is. I guess I have to admit that I'm a geek. Or if not a geek - I have no interest in or understanding of any kind of technology - but a freak. Yes, I'm a freak and I like to play. Games are fun.

 

Season’s Greetings: Spring
May 5th, 2006

The second episode in the Season's Greetings series is just as late as the first one. Though, so is the spring itself. It was pretty damn cold and unpleasant until this week, so in that sense the comic reflects reality. But now it's finally here, I feel life returning to my soul, heart racing with joy and desire, the hills alive with the sound of music...

Ah, drokk it. Who am I trying to fool? Spring is the time of mental depression and the peak season for suicide. Why is that? Naturally because it is evident that the world is renewing, everything around you is coming up with force and vigor, whereas you are the same as always, though a bit older. And that is not in harmony with all the freshness around you. Your life isn't going anywhere and you are not making a progress. Your blog hasn't become the instant global success and your updating frequency is nowhere near optimal. You have lost confidence in yourself and refuse even to try to find a fancy and fascinating job. All in all, you feel resigned. By "you" I mean "me", of course.

Hrm. Back to the comic itself. I feel that this one didn't work out quite as well as "Winter". I wasn't able to keep the colour scheme as uniform as in the first one and the style isn't as simple and pure now. Also, the little lamb doesn't look convincing, but sometimes you just don't have the energy to keep on tuning your work until it meets your requirements, partly because the requirements tend to go higher while you advance. So I decided to be happy with this lamb.

 

The Way of the Exploding Omelette
Apr 23rd, 2006

The second comic in the Memory Lane series was a tricky one to produce. Namely, I can’t draw actual computer graphics, not even C-64 retro style. I tried to draw square-y stuff with the computer, but it didn’t do too well. I even thought I might colour cells in Excel and then copy/paste a print screen, but that proved quickly too cumbersome. So I tried another approach, which was to pencil the outlines and then draw blocks on them in the computer. It went better, but I didn’t quite manage to make it as authentic as I wanted to. But I am reasonably happy with the final results, mostly because of the incorporation of C-64 games into cooking and the overall nostalgia. This one also reminds me a lot of my cooking experiments: I have a clear vision of what it is supposed to be like, but somehow the end product – although quite fun and tasty – doesn’t really represent that original idea.

And for all of you C-64 geeks: yes, I know that Pirates! wasn’t released until 1987 but it was my favourite game, along with Airborne Ranger and Laser Squad, so it just had to be included.

 

The Licorice Hunter
Apr 23rd, 2006

I have a feeling that most of the world isn’t quite aware of the wonders of licorice. That’s why I created a steveirwinesque character to present different kinds of licorice to the ignorant masses. Haribo didn’t pay me anything for this one and their licorice isn’t really my no. 1 favourite, but the idea came from Michael, the crazy German pilot. He lived in another part of Germany the first time I met him (I was accompanying two of my crazy pilot friends, who earned a little money importing used motorcycles from Germany to Finland) and we offered him some candy, which cheered him up considerably because it came from Bonn, just like he did. The scene is impossible to re-create, but that’s how I wanted to start this series and thus ended up including Michael in it. He will get a bigger role in the future and will turn wackier.

 

Blah blah blah I
Apr 22nd, 2006

Now I feel like I should draw another “Unforgivable Inactivity”, since there hasn’t been much action on the site and the latest update did not work properly for quite a while. However, this time I don’t feel quite as guilty, since I have been on holiday without access to the Internet. Not being able to update and correct the unsuccessful publishing of The Exploding Omelette doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working on the site. On the contrary, I have been drawing new comics and preparing the launch of my Worldwide Food Comic Awareness Campaign. No, I’m not going to give you any more details about that. You will learn all about it in due course, at least if it is successful.

 

Unforgivable Inactivity
Apr 22nd, 2006

This bloglog was supposed to be done in these monologue comics, but drawing them would take too much time from doing the food comics, so there’s not going to be as many of them as I originally thought. There’ll probably be some making-of comics and cigarette breaks, where I whine and explain, though. So far I’ve got the best reviews for this one, and I have to admit it, so far it is the funniest. It’s also quite honest and decadent, which some readers may find appealing.

This was, obviously, the quickest and easiest one to make. I was angry with myself and wrote the rant, then drew a bunch of pictures in no particular order, scanned and assembled. In terms of style it, for once, worked out as expected. The only difficult thing was the speech bubbles, which were hard to mould to capacitate the text. I think I won’t use much oval bubbles in the future, square ones are much easier to deal with.

 

The Great Shrovetide Bun Controversy
Apr 22nd, 2006

The most remarkable achievement about this one is that I managed to publish it on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, i.e. in time. Of course, the bun season starts some weeks before Mardi Gras, so it would have been smart to put the comic on the site earlier, but... you know how it is.

This isn’t the last comic where it wasn’t my intention to use myself as the main character, but it just went that way. I meant to sort of introduce the traditions and the bun thing and then bring up the issue of almond paste bun eaters versus jam bun eaters using some fictional characters, but it didn’t work. As a matter of fact, I grew up on my mom’s hybrid buns, which I quite enjoy. This bun thing may be quite foreign to people outside Finland, but back home a lot of people are very sensitive about their buns. For some reason, the fine people in the cities tend to like their buns with almond paste (it’s the Swedish way, so that’s probably why) and in the countryside they prefer jam (possibly because in the old times almond paste wasn’t easily available, whereas everybody cooked a lot of jam. My conclusions are not based on any scientific source material, so you can feel free to criticize and correct). In any case, you are expected to like either almond or jam and dislike the other.

By the way, the bun instructions could be improved a bit: it’s best to leave the dusting with icing sugar last, to avoid leaving finger marks in the dusted surface. I realized it after having drawn the pictures and didn’t bother to draw new ones.

 

Winter Chops
Apr 22nd, 2006

Unsurprisingly, yet another starter of a series, this time Cream. I wanted to have a flirty, rubenesque character, who happily cooks very heavy food claiming it’s light. I thought that could be funny. Requires some development, though. Most of all, I would like the male readers develop a desire for her, kind of like when you see a big, round, self-confident girl, who really can dance and you want her badly but don’t want to admit it. That’s how you will feel about Ingela and her cooking in the future.

This comic has another proof of my beginnerness and the fact that it’s extremely hard to draw hands: Ingela’s right hand is turned wrong way in the panel where she tastes the sauce. I’m planning to fix it some day.


The Strawberry Hideout
Apr 22nd, 2006

This one starts another series, Memory Lane, which shows some of my most important culinary memories from childhood and adolescence. I had not been drawing all that much before starting MAF, so doing this one was a bit of a shock, since I realized I can't draw people eating or how their arms and hands look in this and that position. Arms and hands are terrible to draw. Also, finding a bun recipe and translating it (from a Finnish cookbook, "Parasta Kotiruokaa" by Aura Liimatainen) felt a bit weird. I didn't test the recipe, so maybe it was a feeling of guilt for not checking, whether your advice is useful. (I think that I've used the recipe a couple of years ago, so it isn't entirely untested) I wanted the recipe to have some kind of grandmotherly good-ole-times feel to it, but the chosen font turned out to make the text a bit hard to read. Can't have it all, now can you.


Winter
Apr 6th, 2006

Season's Greetings is going to be a series for opening each the four seasons, thus giving an idea of what's to come in the next couple of months. This time it didn't really work out that well, since I opened the site so late in the winter, but this was a comic I really wanted to do. In terms of style it's one of my favourites. Originally I intended to use even fewer different colours - like keeping it to shades of blue, brown and grey - but then I couldn't pull it off without making some of the pictures look too cold and odd.

 

Profile and Contact Information
Apr 6th, 2006

I have to say I'm very pleased with my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of profile. But my mom does not like the less presentable half of it at all. She sees no point in that kind of a self-depreciating portrait, even if it was partly true. I like a certain level of honesty, so why not apply it to myself every now and then, when I feel like it. The way I see it, the two sides give an objective (yeah, right) and harmonic picture of myself. Or then it is just a way to emphasize my assumed charm and intelligence (you know, only smart and strong people can identify their actual weaknesses and admit them) and give my friends a chance to say that "you aren't anything like that, but it is very funny". Man is a selfish animal, indeed.

Personally, I am more worried about the contact info comic. It contains the f-word and I am not completely in peace with that. Having copied the text from imdb.com I assume that the lines are correct and I don't believe in censorship, but I think I need to replace that comic with something else, it isn't very inviting. What I do like about it, is the use of my home-made raster paint bucket tool. It needs some tweaking, but worked out reasonably well to start with.


Introduction
Apr 6th, 2006

The first comic should be quite self-explanatory. Although some of my friends thought that the interrupting woman is my wife, which is not true. It is more like my own, critical voice, or my insecurities, or something like that. I sometimes need to remind myself that I might not be all that creative and original, as I like to think. Apparently, I also like to make fun of my tendency of talking about myself and my fantastic plans. I'm quite sure, I will return to those issues rather often on this site.

As I am in the process of finding a new job, and my family is pretty concerned about my future income, it was hardly surprising that my sister didn't appreciate parts of the introduction comic. It doesn't really paint too flattering a picture of me as a potential employee. But then again, I didn't draw it in order to advertise myself to potential employers. But laziness is a kind of a taboo in our Lutheran work-gives-identity culture. If you aren't very excited about your work, there's something wrong with you. Why is it not generally acceptable to regard your job just as a means to finance your lifestyle? It doesn't need to mean that you are not valuable to your employer, but the work you do for his benefit (and for which you are paid money, or else you wouldn't be there in the first place) is not the centerpiece of your life. So, if any of you potential employers should read this (and The Introduction), please note that even though I refuse to sell my soul to you, I am responsible and dutiful in my work.

This is starting to sound ridiculous. You know that feeling, when you've had too much wine and you have been talking for a long time and then you realize that it's mostly bullshit and nobody cares anyway, but you don't really know, how to end it smoothly and quickly? Well, I'm there now and I haven't even had any wine. This happens to me pretty frequently.

The Grand Opening
Apr 3rd, 2006

I don’t remember when exactly I got the idea of opening a food comic blog. I did have a bunch of ideas for a cookbook, which I’ve been developing for the last 5 years, but it wasn’t going anywhere. I also had some ideas for 50-150 pages long comic albums, but drawing those would have been way too work-intensive. Drawing comics – at least with my technique – is quite cumbersome: you brainstorm for ideas, then try to arrange the ideas to some kind of a manuscript, pencil a sketch on an A4, then pencil a more detailed page on an A3, ink it, text it, erase the pencil marks, make some final corrections and then you have one page ready. The thing is, I’ve lost my interest to the story when the first sketch is done and then I start to think about new stories. Yes, I’m a starter, not a finisher. Given my short attention span, three to four panel comic strips would suit me better, but I don’t have any funny ideas for three panels at time, one strip every week. Which is sad, because that - I assume - would be the best way to get your comics to newspapers and thus getting paid for your hobby.

Then I got the idea of illustrating the cookbook. Or turning it entirely into a comic, which again would have been problematic for the reasons stated above. I guess the big picture got formed after my encounters with two things: the Global Comic Jam and a bunch of food blogs, which I stumbled across in late summer 2005. I found GCJ after reading a newspaper article about it and the guy running the page seemed to have a similar kind of problem as I: too lazy to draw an entire album. Unlike him, I wasn’t keen on the idea of letting somebody else modify my stories, but – as ridiculous as it may sound now – I took the idea of slowly building up a story (or many stories) on a website as groundbreaking. By publishing one page a week the tediousness of the project would be decreased, since each page would be a milestone in itself (as opposed to needing to finish the last page, before anybody would see any of it). Also, the inevitable and sudden rush of readers to my website would create enough push for me to keep on updating the site with approximately one page a week. I still find it hard to accept that I had not come to think about it before.

Then I started reading food blogs. I had in my ignorance dismissed blogs as some kind of diaries, where attention-craving women complain about their boyfriends and how they munch too much chocolate. So I never got into the blog thing before I saw an article about the most interesting blogs covering this and that topic. I clicked further to the Accidental Hedonist and found it all very fascinating. Not only did I get hooked on the blog itself, but I realized that I could work on a whole range of small stories by blogging – that the story wouldn’t need to be linear, just write whatever you feel like and then something else next week. Return to any given story or character whenever you feel like it. Also, the great amount of food blogs sort of convinced me that there could be a demand for my comics as well.

With these two revelations it didn’t take me long to brainstorm my own food comic blog. In a couple of months I had expanded my cookbook script and written down ideas for at least 200 pages. I had over 20 different categories or issues to cover. Some of the storylines could easily yield more than ten stories. There would be recipes, short stories with link to recipes, shopping notes, product tests, restaurant reviews and all that kind of stuff that food blogs have. Some of the comics would be funny, others would just have a feel-good atmosphere in them: easy, witty comic infortainment. My goal was to open the website with ten one to two page comics by the end of January 2006.

Of course, I fell far away from that goal, not that much time-wise, but very badly material-wise. By now, my drawing method had turned even more time consuming: write the script, draw a sketch to figure out the size and placement of the panels, pencil each panel on A4’s with pre-printed borders, draw over with black pens and magic markers, erase pencil marks, scan to computer with one panel at time, colour the pictures (that’s a really slow process), resize and assemble them, draw speech bubbles and add text. Not quite as straightforward, as I would like it, but so far I haven’t been able to figure out a smarter way to do it. Buying a USB drawing pad might help.

So, I decided to lower my expectations and opened the site with two comics, layout being a bit more ascetic and amateurish than intended, no links and no title (which wasn’t fixed until last week; great big thanks to Ninette for helping me out). Well, at least it was a start. Not that I’ve gotten all that much further from that, but at least the site is sort of running. The next steps are to find readers whom I don’t know and who don’t yet know me, to improve the layout, add the ability for readers to comment the comics and to make the page googleable. It is a bit discomforting to key your name or the name of your website in Google and not being awarded any links to said site. Fix, fix, fix. Sadly, I am not very experienced in DTP, so all this will require a lot of time, studying and assistance.

All in all, I really hope that this website will turn into something. By “something” I don’t necessarily mean 10 000 hits a day, steady income from the ads and a book deal with a great big advance (although I wouldn’t mind any of these). I just want it to become something that I can be proud of and that will keep me drawing food comics at a steady pace, which hopefully would improve my skills both as a comic artist and as a food enthusiast. Ah, well, time will tell.

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