Monday, May 9, 2016

Drawing your own comic strip!

      Design your world!
       Draw your own comic strip!

Jessica “Jessi” Woken is a California born transplant to Minnesota who is doing just that.  Her “lifelong infatuation with storytelling” has “converged to create a comic strip” that is “silly, slightly cynical, timidly optimistic, yet widely relatable... to color your world...”
Jessi and her family found a home south of Cannon Falls.  Jessi has a Creative Writing B.A. and works as a freelance writer/illustrator through her company, Mountain Owl Ink, LLC (
Her comic strip has taken off as part of that endeavor.

Every Wednesday the strip is published on the internet. Jessi has been doing this for two years.
Recently she auditioned her work to an agency that is online only that had an “open call” for comics they would promote.
Jessi submitted her work but didn’t think she had a good chance.  In fact she believed it would never happen.  But several months later she heard from them.  
Her work had been chosen. It’s unpaid but good advertising and encouraging.

“Le Mieux”

Jessi’s comic strip is about the adventures of an artist cat named “Le Mieux”, a french word which can be translated meaning “best”.  When she first moved to Minnesota she had seen that name on a street sign.   Though Jessi doesn’t speak french, she thought it sounded like a cat’s mew and so it became the name of her lead character.  
This seems appropriate because it seems just about every cat gives the impression that they are the best!
Around that time a stray cat had wandered into their lives and made a home with them.  And now gives Jessi ideas to draw from.
She also has rabbits that give her more ideas.
But, she explains, the characters do not mirror any people she knows!

How do you make a comic strip?

Jessi starts off with a scribble notebook - a drafting book - to sketch her ideas.
Then she has preprinted frames - usually four - to focus her ideas.
She uses a pencil - “You can erase!”
Then she covers those lines with a dark black ink pen - that doesn’t smear.
After this she erases any pencil lines that might show.
Next step is to scan the strip in black and white and put it in Photoshop for the colorization.  Here you can still change things... like adding arms on an animal or changing their position.
Then it’s laid out in nice clean digital form.  You add words, etc. and finally upload it to the internet.

Development of characters

The characters of the comic strip may also change as the story continues.  Jessi explained, “The human doesn't make many appearances now; I've found that his usefulness as a character is very limited, despite my initial plans to use him regularly.”
While the comic strip was in the drafting stage, the cat, Le Mieux, started as an orange tabby but changed to gray.  The rabbit was brown but became white.  See the strip showing the metamorphosis of Phil the Raccoon.

  Jessi got interested in art when as a child she discovered crayons.  With these she could  create new worlds.... like a ‘self-directed movie playing in her head.”
In one “scene”, Jessi explained on her website,  Bunny has to cover for Mieux, who left the house for bigger adventures.  Even though Mieux is the source of “angst”, it's really Bunny who offers the humor. 

And maybe the fun also comes from making up your own world in your very own comic strip!

Le Mieux is on Facebook, ( and plans to have its own website soon.