I've tried using a computer font for my lettering, but have found it to be too uniform. Often I need to fill some extra space or squish the letters together just a bit and I can do that much more nicely with hand drawn letters. They also give a nice organic feel to my comic. I treat the letters as part of the drawing and take my time to make them look as decent as I can. The rest of the comic is also initially hand drawn with pencil, inked in, then scanned and tweaked in Photoshop. I'd say the whole thing takes about 2 hours do draw from start to finish, if I have my concept worked out in a rough draft. And guess what? The ideas are coming to me much easier this time around. Back about 5 years ago I'd sometimes spend three days trying to come up with an idea. If none would come in time I would have to settle for an idea that I wasn't really happy with. Now I sit down and think for a few minutes and voila! The ideas start sprouting right off the cuff. I've gotta credit that to divine inspiration for sure.
Wow, it's a really nice feeling when people read my comic and they actually laugh out loud. Feels like I'm doing my job!
Lots of my ideas these days are pointed out by Jared (my husband). Throughout the week he will stop in the middle of our conversation and say "Now that's a comic idea, write it down!" Then I make it work on paper. My fellow artist and business partner Andrea is a big help with the ideas too. She'll just say something like "Do something people can relate to, like not being able to see past the snowbanks". I'm really thankful that the ideas are coming a lot easier than they used to! At this rate maybe I will soon be able to do daily comics.
Do you ever find yourself in a situation that makes you laugh and you think "This would make a great comic"? Go ahead and send me your idea!
One of my biggest comic strip influences has been Bloom County, which I started reading when I was in grade one. When my dad read the comics in the paper, Bloom County was the only one he laughed at. As a six year old I had no doubt in my mind that they were really funny.
I created the concept for Commander Broccoli in while in high school in 1991. I had a thing for superheros at the time, particularly the Tick and Wolverine. I was also going through a bit of a vegetable kick. I had named my first pet iguana Brock, short for Broccoli and my next one Gus, short for Asparagus. The name Broccoli seemed to fit when I created my cartoon character, so I named him Commander Broccoli. Years later I heard about Veggie Tales and was surprised to find that Larry Boy had a similar shaped helmet as Commander Broccoli. I considered changing his name or his helmet but I couldn't do it. By then he had been in The Projector, the Red River College newspaper for two and a half years, and I had sold about a hundred t-shirts and comic books. His name, his look and character was completely established. I finally figured that since he was a rabbit named Broccoli and not actually broccoli, it might be ok to leave him as he was.
When I became a mom (of two most amazingly artistically talented boys by the way... I'm just saying), I started creating comics again and got it in Steinbach's newspaper, The Carillon, where it was published for two and a half years from about 2005-2007. We moved away to Alberta for a year and I found it too crazy busy to keep it up.
In the fall of 2010, I had a lot of people asking me about Commander Broccoli again. I was working full time as a graphic designer but also working on a business plan to have my own art business, Nickel Creative. My opportunity finally came to start my art business full time just before Christmas! So I got busy with my comics and approached The Carillon newspaper again. The editor sounded a little interested but didn't want to say yes. I asked if I could email them to him anyway and he said sure. After I had sent two comics to him, he emailed back and said they were interested after all. Made my day I must say!
My next step was to send my comic to all the weekly newspapers in Manitoba, which I have done. Most have yet to respond, and some have said it won't work at this time. But I am still sending them out every week. When the time seems right I will work on contacting other weekly newspapers all across Canada.
Author & Artist
Cheryl Nickel draws and writes the comic Commander Broccoli webcomic which was published in The Carillon, Steinbach's local newspaper.