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Tags >> online comics

Writing a Guardian Land

Posted by: Caz


I've recently decided to explore a different avenue in writing Callous.  The series usually is grounded greatly in reality.  The main character, Rianne, is a relatively new physician who is struggling to come to grips with the world around her after dedicating so much of her life to studying in med school and specialty training.  This involved growing her up as a person rather than as a doctor.  To aid her in this task is her Guardian Duck, Cal.  The purposeful inclusion of Cal Duck in Rianne's life acts as my voice of suggestion rather than declaration, giving her clarity in formulating her own philosophy in life.  The series often takes place in the local hospital where she works, at a favored coffee shop, or at her home, all very "real" places.

However, I've taken the great risk of turning things around in Rianne's life.  Cal Duck and his fellow Guardians Mallard, Decoy, and Ling inject a fantasy element into the series and for a long time I resisted the urge to really explore that facet of Callous.  That is, until recently.  I thought, "hey, why not?" and took the plunge.  Hence the storyline, The Land of the Guardians where Dr. Rianne Nicah finds herself in the home world of her Guardian Duck friends.

Why did I find this such a risk? The comic strip has an almost 14-year history already with a decent following.  By changing things so drastically, even temporarily, I might have alienated these fans and damaged a well-established world, filled with characters, relationships, and personalities that I have cared for and nurtured to maturity.  It would be easy to think, "it's my series, I can do what I want" but I guess I'm just not that kind of person.  Switching genres is also against general cartooning wisdom (which is called such for a reason).

Eventually, I rationalized that such an adventure would aid the growth of the primary core of characters, that is Rianne and Cal Duck.  I've never really shown how much they mean to each other, especially after going through so much for so long.  It still is all about Rianne though, as she will develop herself further as a person through these trials.

Like much that I've done with Callous, the fruits are borne from doing away with reservations and just plain doing it.  Now I am having oh so much fun! Wink

Writing it is quite a challenge, however.  Shifting from a gag-a-day comic strip to a full-on continuous story while maintaining the same kind of energy on a daily basis is tough and is something I never did before.  I try to keep things at a brisk pace, even in moments that require expository "dull" proceedings, to keep readers interested and to maintain a certain daily flow while adequately contributing to an overall story.

So this is as much my own adventure as it is Rianne's!  And I hope you'll join me in this new undertaking.  Leave a note, I'm always open to hearing from readers, new and old. Laughing

You can find the Callous comic strip series at its home page at!

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you!

Clear Lines in "Callous"

Posted by: Caz

Tagged in: online comics


Welcome to my blog on Total Art Soul! Here I'll be talking about certain artistic aspects of my online comic strip series, Callous! In this blog article, I'll be discussing the characteristic line work of the series, how it turned out that way, and the rich history of the style.

An artist perusing through my comics pointed out to me the similarities of my line work to ligne claire, a popular European style during the 1950's. I never really thought about my line style until that time, so I looked for a quick reference online regarding this new term. It turns out that ligne claire, literally, means "clear lines" in French. The style is characterized by the usage of equal line weight and thickness throughout the artwork and does not emphasize objects or distance by relying on different line thickness, shading, or cross-hatching.  Because of the equality of the pen and/or brush strokes, this technique was nicknamed "the democracy of lines".

Ligne Claire in Callous

Most notable of those who used this technique back in the day was Herge of The Adventures of Tintin fame.  His intention was to get the story across as directly as he could.  So his writing, color choice, and line art were meant to do just that.

However, the appearance of this particular style of line art in Callous was borne out of necessity, not intent.

When I decided to publish these comics daily, I calculated its feasibility based on the premise that I could spare one to two hours working on one comic strip per day.  I usually pencil and ink a day's comic strip during lunch at work and scan, letter, and color it once I get home at night.  So when it comes to my line art, I restricted myself to using only one pencil and ink pen.  Hence, the equality of my lines.

My choice of colors may have been subconsciously influenced by Herge's work on Tintin.  Since I have to work on these comics quickly, I did away with any shading and used simple digital color fills to my art.  Colors are carefully chosen so that foreground, midground, and background remain distinct.

Much like Herge's Tintin, Callous was artistically designed to be efficient, to-the-point, yet visually attractive.  At least, that is my hope!

In the end, all I want to do is to get a story across as clear as I could.  Clarity is crucial in my comic work environment and so far it has paid off to draw with "clear lines".

You can check out the Callous comic strip at




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