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,


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,