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Menorah Park

526e828467fe3.preview-300Come one, come all! I’ll be speaking locally at Menorah Park in Beachwood, OH, on January 14 at 7:30 pm. Q & A and a book signing to follow. Free and open to the public! Click here for details.

Looking back on lice

It’s Flashback Week here at Pajama Diaries, and we’re looking back at the “lice” story line of 2012. Remember this?

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Yechhh. Knock wood, I never experienced it personally (I’m sure I jinxed myself). But I have plenty of friends whose kids have contracted it. There’s only one word used to describe the process of getting rid of these vermin: nightmarish.

For research, I rounded up everyone I knew who had dealt with it and asked them to tell their stories. It became an anecdotal dumping ground. By the end, I felt I had enough material. To further the tension, I thought it would be fun to boot Rob out of the scenario and have Jill deal with it herself. I know, not nice.

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Famous last words, girl. Anyway, Jill was left to nit-pick and sanitize while emotions ran high. Of course, while Jess was afflicted, Amy managed to make the situation about her.

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Meanwhile, Jill had no idea what she was doing and was trying to find ways to de-bug Jess while avoiding poisoning her with toxins. She finally settled on the flat iron method.

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The result?

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Granted, this is a condensed version of a two-week series. No picnic. It’s a tribute to everyone out there who’s had to deal with lice. Hats off to you.

And if I may — don’t let anyone share that hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comics Kingdom

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Here’s some great news for comics fans: It’s the new Comics Kingdom — a free site from King Features Syndicate. You’ll be able to read Pajama Dairies plus all of King Features’ comics in one place every day for free.  Comment on comics just like you do here, and get to know other comics fans.

There’s a small annual subscription fee to join Comics Kingdom Royal, the premium service. With this service, you can make your own custom comics page, have daily email delivery, and keep a scrapbook where you can save your favorite comics, vintage comics, and more.  If you were a DailyINK member, your account is waiting for you at Comics Kingdom Royal, with all of your favorites saved just the way you left them.

Please check it out!

Writer’s Block and the Comics

Most of you know that cartooning is my full-time job. Only some of you know that I have another gig: writing humorous cards for American Greetings. I’m a contract writer, and I work on cards once a week. I love it, and have been doing it for 20 years. In fact, that’s what brought me to Cleveland in the first place.

As all creative types know, artist’s block comes with the territory. With cards, if I have a bad writing day, the editors simply reject my work and nothing gets published. The end. I move on and hopefully have a better writing session next time.

With comics, it’s different. There are daily deadlines. Daily. If I get sick, have an emergency, or simply need a break, I still must meet the deadline. No one wants a blank spot or rerun in the funny pages (well, not reruns of mine, anyway). Of all obstacles, writer’s block has been my greatest enemy. I mean, think about working when you’re sick, worried, etc. Of course the end product won’t be up to par.

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I’ve often mentioned that I write about 4-5 months ahead. Why? I can do my work and then put away the strips until it’s time for publication. This lets me scan the strips more objectively down the road and make necessary changes.

Rarely, I’ve removed strips after reviewing them. I try not to do this because when I take one away, I need to replace it with another. That means more work in less time.

Now think about wanting to remove entire months’ worth of cartoons.

Back in the March-May time frame, I wrote my Aug-Oct strips. A lot was happening in my personal life. Good things. I was preparing a presentation for the Reubens. My daughter was having a Bat Mitzvah. With the latter, I was doing most of the event planning and it felt like another full-time job on top of everything else. My writing suffered from constant distraction. I planned ahead to try and avoid this, but…well, I’m human.

The strips from that time frame recently ran in the papers. I don’t think they were terrible, I just don’t think they were up to my personal standards. They’d been changed and tweaked to be suitable for print, but in all sincere honestly, I cringed. I was just riding it out until they went away. Since summer, I’ve been able to focus again, and I’m much more proud of my writing.

Why am I posting this? It’s not because fans have blatantly said anything, thank goodness. It’s not because I’m really ashamed. It’s because I think readers should understand that when creators have hiccups in their personal lives combined with unrelenting deadlines, there can be a direct bearing on creativity. In the best case, it may not even be very noticeable.

But the next time you read the comics and think to yourself, “What’s up with my favorite cartoon? It just hasn’t been as funny/clever/entertaining as usual. This sucks”…remember that most likely the creator knows it and is just going through something. Be forgiving, because other than an audience, there’s no one the writer wants to please more than him/herself.

New Books!

I am pleased to announce the arrival of two new Pajama Diaries book collections: a compilation of all-time favorite 2011-12 comic strips and a book of Jewish-themed strips. They are available for pre-order now and will be available for regular orders November 1. You can purchase them on my store page or on Amazon. Get them in time for the holidays!

2-Books

“The Pajama Diaries: Having it all…and no time to do it” is the second collection of Terri Libenson’s popular syndicated comic strip. It documents the hectic days of Jill Kaplan and her family from 2011-12… but with a preteen twist. Like the first book, “Pajama Diaries: Deja To-Do,” this contains full-color daily and Sunday strips, and includes a bonus selection of “The Parents’ Glossary of Terms.”

“The Pajama Diaries: Bat-Zilla” is a comic book-style compilation for fans of Terri Libenson’s Jewish-themed comic strips. Inside are nearly 100 “Pajama Diaries” comics featuring holidays like Passover and Hanukkah, as well as the long-running 2013 story line about the planning of Amy Kaplan’s Bat Mitzvah. Two page-long descriptions provide background for the cartoons, which are divided into holiday and Bat Mitzvah strips.

Third Child Syndrome

So, the husband and I have totally succumbed to second child syndrome. Basically, it’s when you put so much energy and effort into the first kid (a.k.a. “the experiment”), that you’re too exhausted to repeat it with the next one. Talk to the local family therapist for further explanation.

This week, I thought it would be fun to take this syndrome a step further (and thereby follow the comedic “rules of three”) with “third child syndrome.” It’s basically the other malady kicked up a notch. Reason I know about it is because I lived it.

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Now I admit, I enjoyed my role as the happy accident 7 years after my sister. I was essentially an only child because my siblings were out of the house as I entered my teen years. But by then — let’s face it — my parents were old and tired. So I pretty much had the run of my life. Sure, it could get lonely, but I had friends, the upstairs to myself (with a hall phone whose cord could stretch through my closed door), and fairly liberal rules. Also, my brother and sister became a doctor and lawyer respectively, thus freeing me to be the unconventional one in the family.

Downsides? There were no more family funds for things like, say, private school; my brother went, my sister had the option; I had bubkes. Okay, so that’s a first world problem, and anyway, I enjoyed public school. But I had practically no baby photos. And, of course, there were the unseen things: I often didn’t garner the same respect as my older siblings.

But I think that last one made me very ambitious. I wanted people to take me seriously (note the irony of my profession). I’m sure some of that was my own nature, but still…it made me want to prove myself.

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So here’s to all the 3rd, 4th, 5th (etc.) kids out there. We may not have been fed, clothed, or bathed as diligently as the first or second kid…but all that just made us more self-sufficient, right?

And as the cartoonist, I’ll make sure Lisa’s youngest, Noah, fares just as well.

 

 

 

 

Chicago Tribune poll

Hi everyone. Pajama Diaries is testing in The Chicago Tribune until Sept. 30. If you could help me out, I’d really appreciate it. Go to this link and vote as many times as you’d like until the 30th. You can vote daily. It’s quick and easy. Thanks for your help!

My critical eye, take two…

Okay, this is probably a clearer example. The image on the left is a snippet from Nov, ’13 that I did on the Cintiq. The one on the right was also done on the Cintiq for December, ’13 — it’s akin to the thinner-lined drawing style that I used when I hand-drew my strips. Drive-Thru_c

My critical eye…

So I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. I apologize. No excuses, just being a lazy lady.

Anyway, this particular post is about a recent artistic insight. If you read this blog, you probably know I work 4-5 months ahead. I also work in monthly batches. I tend to put these batches aside until right before they get published. That way, if there are any changes to be made, I can look at the strips more objectively after not seeing them for a few months.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I took a look at some fall strips that were about to be sent out. I was NOT happy. As much as I love my Cintiq and would never go back to drawing/inking, I realized I used to have a more pleasing delicate line quality with the Micron pens. I seem to go heavy-handed on the Cintiq. I think it’s more intuitive to do that on the digital device, but I still prefer the lighter touch. It’s just a personal preference.

So I pledged to revert back to my more delicate drawing style. Problem is, I’ve already finished strips through November. Started experimenting on the Cintiq with the December batch and am pleased with the new results — I’ve been able to achieve a lighter style as long as I pay close attention. I just have to put up with what I’ve already done in the last four months. Besides, there’s NO WAY I’m redrawing a hundred strips just to meet my own standards.

Here’s an example of before/after. The “before” panel on the left is from 2012, when I used Micron pens and scanned in the images. The panel on the right is an upcoming November one that I did on the Cintiq. I don’t have problem with how it looks online as much I do with the printed version. It’s also easier to draw tiny details using the thinner line.

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If you read the strip, pay closer attention in the coming months to the drawing style. Notice how it’ll get progressively heavier-handed between Aug-Nov, and then more delicate early in December. See if you can spot the difference.

And if YOU have a personal preference, chime in!

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