Dost Thou Game?

In the midst of *gestures dramatically* everything else we are doing, we are also designing some games.  Right now we have a card game that is moving into beta, and we just received some printed copies to test.

Medlab is a science and pun based card game where you do research to collect pieces to cure the disease you’ve selected.

I came up with the mechanics and card effects, but I owe Rowyn hugely for assisting in the art and making the whole game feel unified.

We will have more news after we playtest the game a bit, and hopefully have a version available for purchase by Summer!

Rock on,

The Process Behind Oh Hell, Donna!

Happy February, Team!

I finally put all of the Oh Hell, Donna! pages into a binder, with Rob’s help.

(spring toys there to avoid this post being NSFW)

You may notice that the book is on the floor. This is because I couldn’t actually lift it up to put it on a shelf.

It’s big, and not even done.  There is still ONE MORE chapter of Donna for me to draw.

The one I just did was Volume 3, Chapter 4, and that still needs to be corrected, colored, background…ed, and so on before I can post it.

Right now, the website at has comic pages going into Volume 3 posted, but won’t get quite to where I currently am until the end of the year.

For those who don’t know what this comic is, it’s about a dead girl who has come up to the land of the living for a vacation.  However, she doesn’t get to spend much time relaxing before a universe-threatening cult shows up.

It’s an often NSFW tale that blends comedy, horror, and romance.  There’s themes of mental health, processing trauma, learning to love oneself, and there are a few gay characters.  This means the comic is either TOTALLY FOR YOU or extremely not.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground.

Knowing all that, I wanted to share some of the behind-the-scenes process of Oh Hell, Donna!

My first webcomic was Deddrie: The Cornsbrook Killer.  That went for about 13 years on and off online, and I’m currently collecting that all into a book.  I’m not quite through with the characters yet though, so my hope is to get a cartoon going eventually.  Deddrie will also be a character interaction in a game Rob and I are working on!

Donna is my second webcomic, and the first to have a real storyline.  It wasn’t intended to be this long, but little throw away jokes at the beginning of the book became plot points or simply characters I wanted to explore.

A good example is Mary, who was going to be there very briefly, MAYBE getting her own comic eventually, and now she’s a central point of this third and final volume.

I bring Mary up because I had a few pieces of older work that I wanted to bring back and make a part of this comic.  This meant tweaking some things to make the old art work in the new context, both for Mary and for Queenie.  Here’s a good example of how some pieces weren’t completely redone, but finished and altered for the sake of the story:

Donna, Zippy, and Todd were all characters I had come up with a very long time ago, even before Deddrie was a thing.  I had put them away in a filing cabinet I call my morgue, only to bring them back from the dead when the time was right.  Then this version of Donna spanned over so many years that Donna as we know her today looks a little different than she did even at the start of this book.

In fact, I first drew Donna meeting Todd in a poorly put together one page comic when I was a pre-teen.  As hard as that is to look at now, the premise and even some lines from that made up the first chapter of the comic as we know it today.

Donna has been good for me in terms of learning the ways around the medium, and finding ways to work around my wrist deformity.  To do a commission is one thing.  To do a 400+ page graphic novel is another.

So I do this by first coming up with a script, then dividing that script up into pages and panels, then doing my little scribbles on the side of the script until I’m happy with a thumbnail.  That thumbnail will become the general layout of the page.

After that is trying to draw straight lines with more than one ruler at a time.  I’m not going to show you that process specifically because it gets a little embarrassing.  Future comics aren’t planned to be so analog, so this should be the last time I’ll need to worry about gutters in this way.

The key is a T square.  Just letting you know.

Then I gently sketch where the characters are going to be, and do the words and word bubbles.  This is also a process that will be easier in future projects, as I had a font made out of my handwriting.  It is much more legible than my actual handwriting.

Next is inking, where I will screw up at least five times per panel, regardless of how detailed my pencil was.

Backgrounds are done separately for Donna.  It saves my arm a bit if I do it the way cartoons were done back in the day.  You’d have your one painted background for a scene, and then your characters would change on a separate plate on top of that.

Most of the Donna backgrounds are watercolor pencil.

Some are digital…

I even have a couple of outright photographs for key scenes!

Mostly though, the backgrounds are watercolor, and I started doing a widescreen canvas for it to make it a little easier to see more of a room per painting.

Finally, I edit everything together.  This means scanning the backgrounds and line art, (once Rob erases all the pencil for me) and correcting any WRONG parts of said line art before coloring the whole thing digitally.

And there you go!  How To Make A Donna.


Rock on,


The Journey of a Book

Hey, Team!

We recently sent out our first children’s book, Peas and Luv, so I wanted to use this week’s post to go into the adventure of making it.

I had posted this to our Patreon before the Kickstarter, just to show the process of making the pages of the book itself.  Well, the art at least:

The prose had been edited by my mother, along with a few friends…  But I was still really nervous about it.  I was nervous about my art too.
I tried my best to have contingency plans for every step.  That meant scanning every single pencil sketch into my computer, JUST IN CASE I messed up the watercolor so terribly that I’d have to do the whole thing digitally instead.

This was an actual thought that lived in my brain.  Thankfully, that isn’t how it went down.  Either way, I had to power on through regardless.  It had become a matter of principle.

So, this happened:

By August 2nd, we were already at 36% funded for Peas & Luv!  And I was STILL really scared.

I used that first Kickstarter update to say thank you and to show everyone something dear to me.

See, a million years ago, Mom and I took a knitting class together.  My goal was to make arm warmers, but I wound up using it to make the body of a self-portrait doll instead!  (I had streaks of red in my hair at the time.)  I suppose it’s another example of how arts and crafts were always such a big part of the time Mom and I spent together.

I thought about using this image as my author picture toward the end of the book, but eventually opted to put the dedication to Mom there instead, and kind of leave me out of it.

The dedication itself mentions Mom’s love of teaching and the lives she changed along the way.  I made the corresponding picture as though I’d made a doll for her.  It’s digitally done but still in the style of the book as that’s… just how I draw, regardless of medium.

Orange was Mom’s favorite color, with blue as a close second.  I took care to pose the doll to have her look curious and friendly.  Above all else though, this doll needed to have a BIG heart!

We were 45% funded at day 5, which was amazing.

The Kickstarter update that day was about the cover design.

I mentioned that the most editing done was eliminating some errors from scanning, or any glaringly obvious pencil marks in the original paintings, but otherwise the pages were as painted.  The cover was a little different.

The cover needed something to really pop.  As a result, the original painting for the cover wound up more like a painted sketch.

I wanted the text to be bigger, and my husband realized that the background was awfully plain, given that the pages inside are all full illustrations.
Also, the original has my pen name on it.  I used my real name for this project because so much of it is for my mother.  Since marriage, Micki Groper and I obviously don’t have the same last name anymore, but it still seemed like the right way to go.

Eventually, my husband Rob and I (mostly Rob, but he’ll say it was mostly me) came up with this:

Otherwise digital, the heart itself is still watercolor scanned in.

This worked as a nice medium ground too, because the dedication for my mom has that digital image near the text.

On day 7 and we were 50% there!  This didn’t keep me from feeling overwhelmed and terrified.

Since Team Manticore is known for making plush toys, having dolls in this campaign was no surprise.

Here, you can see the process of prototyping until we get our final version:

Ultimately, the final is somewhere between the painting and the prototype, with a better overall shape, and eyes that fit the head a bit better than the painting actually had.

By August 25th, your support helped us reach our goal!

After that, we didn’t reach our stretch goal, but that doesn’t really matter.  The book got made, and we still have enough books on hand to give to charities like I wanted, even if it isn’t as many as I would have liked.

Then, we got the PROOF!  Kinda.

Generally, a proof means it would be exactly what we’d be getting 500 copies of, so we approved it.

The company then let us know of some possible printing issues, and asked us to fix the files.  This was a little confusing, as it meant the proof was not actually manufactured the same way the final books would be.

The company was very helpful though, and did eventually send “samples” from the larger print load… but by then they were just nice to have, and not actually useful as a proof per se…  BUT WHATEVER, they got here and they are good.

The printer was in China, which meant the books would need to go through two different sets of Customs before they made their way to me.

It was a long wait, but we used the time to get to work on the dolls to accompany the books for those who gave for that tier:

There were eleven pairs of dolls to do, plus a couple custom (not Peas and Luv specifically) dolls to make.

All the books got here, safe and sound.  16 boxes total!  I was worried about water damage from the snow, but this printer packages everything with a separate layer to prevent exactly that!

Books for daaaaayssss.

So that was it!  We packaged everything, shipped everything off to where it needed to go, and I’m exhausted.

In March, there will be a reading at my temple, and the Parenting Center will be dedicated to Mom.  Let’s see how well I hold together for that.


OH!  If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still buy the book at !


Thank you and rock on,


New Comic and an Update About Our Patreon

Hey, Team!
Rowyn here with some fun news!
We’re revamping the Patreon a bit for 2018, (by the way, we HAVE a Patreon for those who didn’t know!) and using it to concentrate more on upcoming projects.
In order to do that, that means our “behind the scenes” will be on lower tiers, so more people can enjoy them!  We’ll also be simplifying the tiers in order to do that, which will be good all around.
This ALSO means that for a while, the Patreon will be all about Boop in the Night, which is a family friendly comic Rob and I are collaborating on. 
It’s the story of a little girl and her monster-from-under-the-bed.
We’ll show you all the character sketches as they are developed, and you’ll see the finished comics posted here before they go to LineToon/WebToon.
As an example, you can see some back and forth between the two of us about the monster, Icabod:
He goes by Icky.
You’ll also get a chance to help us decide what else the characters should be doing!  We’ll have a vote now and then when we’re stuck on which we should do next.  This will also include votes on what kinds of monsters we should see in the comic!  After all, Icky isn’t all alone, is he?
Rock on,

How to Keep Your New Years Resolutions in Six Steps

Hey, Team!

It’s getting to be the end of the second week of January now, so I’m wondering how everyone is doing with their resolutions for the new year?
(Can my resolution just be to keep warm around here??)

I’m bringing back an old process I use that has served me well.  It’s about making new habits, and keeping an actionable schedule.

Here we go!

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

1.) Make a List:
• Write down everything you wanted to change and/or accomplish this year.
• Then cut that down to achievable, reasonable things.
o No, seriously. If your goals are super lofty to begin with, you’re just setting yourself up for failure, which will make it hard to do anything at all.
• For example, “eat healthy” might be better than, “marry that movie star.”
o BUT that’s still vague. So let’s fix that with the next part:

2.) Detail That List:
• Having things like “Go to the gym more often” wind up meaningless really fast because they are unclear, and therefore make it easy to come up with excuses to avoid.
• Instead, write actionable things like, “Go to the gym X amount of hours, X amount of days a week…”
Even specify which days that’ll be, and write exactly what you plan to work on while there.
o Also helps to literally write this on your to-do list, and on your calendar as a scheduled appointment to yourself.
• You can even go to someone who works at the gym the first day and ask what kinds of exercises or machines you should use to achieve your goal.
o Then write that down too.
o Yep. All of that. Write it down.
o No, you will not remember.  Just- Just write it the Hell down, okay??

This process works for pretty much any goal, not just working out!

• Want to diet?  Ask a nutritionist, a dietitian, your primary care physician, and so on.  …And then write stuff down.
• Want to draw more?  What will you be drawing?  What kinds of references do you need?  Find some online tutorials.  Ask an artist you like and admire for tips.  WRITE THOSE TIPS DOWN.

Then turn those actionable tips and tricks and all that scheduled stuff into the next step:

3.) Mini Goals:
• Having mini goals along the way can help you remember that you are making progress, which will help your desire to continue.
o This means aiming for only three weeks before we actually say THE WHOLE YEAR.
o Oh, and that stuff you put on the calendar?  You’ll be able to mark off as you go, and check out the amount of days you did The Thing later on.
• Mini goals also give you something to build on in order to get to another level or step of your ultimate goal.

Heeey… Here’s an important question when it comes to our goals:

4.) Check in With Yourself.  Do You Wanna?
• Make sure you actually WANT to do the things on this list, or that they will make you healthier, or better your life in some way.
• If not?  Rearrange!  Pick other things.

ONLY pick things you really want to do for YOUR life.  Not someone for else.
Sometimes, we say we’ll do things just because other people want us to do them.  This makes it less likely to actually stick to it, for obvious reasons.

•… That being said, if something is on your list because a friend is doing it also and wants a buddy, you should probably stick to it if you think it’ll be good for you too.  That’s just nice. 

5.) IN FACT! Have a buddy:
• It isn’t necessary, but having someone else hold you accountable and having the drive to stick to it too will benefit you both.
o This can be in person or online.
There are other kinds of buddies too.  Help is good!
• In some cases, you may want to go to your doctor to see what the healthiest way is to achieve your goals.
o Do this especially if your goal involves ANY kind of diet or exercise plan.
• In other cases, you may want to find and go to a counselor or a psychologist if your goal involves facing a long standing fear or even attending to social struggles.
o Please remember that it doesn’t have to be something huge in order to seek professional help.
• In fact, asking for some kind of help is always recommended, no matter what your goals may be.

6.) All Else Fails, (Break Glass) Think About This:
• If you can find an excuse to quit, you can find an excuse to continue.
o Make up a reason why it would benefit you to stick with the resolution, even if it is just a sense of pride and bragging rights.
• Along those lines, if you don’t really want to eat more healthy or keep track of something else medical but your doctor tells you to do so… You might want to just suck it up and try it anyway.
Who knows? Your doctor might be right and you might start to feel awesome.
• If you find that it isn’t working out, you can change something about your routine.
• Ask around and see how other people achieved similar goals.
Form a habit!
• Like brushing your teeth, if you do something every day, eventually you’ll do it without even thinking about it.

In Summary…
Do research!
This works for above examples, as well pretty much everything else in life.
• Want to learn a new skill?  Find a teacher or online tutorials.
o What does it take?  What supplies will you need?
o Start small though.
!!! Getting too involved, too fast may cost you a lot of money for something you might wind up not actually enjoying.
o You can always build up on supplies once you know that you want to continue.

I love writing lists.  Can you tell?  So, write down your progress:
• Like I said earlier, on a calendar, or even sticky notes, write down every single time you accomplish a part of your goal.
o Even a tiny accomplishment.
o Say how many hours you did it, or what mini goal you met.
• If you organize your main goal, mini goals, and steps to get there “by date on the calendar” to begin with, this will be easy to see.
• You can always add goals throughout the year.
Every day is a new day, so we don’t have to wait for the next year to make goals.

This makeshift system has helped me accomplish quite a lot, so I hope you can benefit from it as well.

Rock on,