Lost Behind the Ink Cloud

“Oh! Surprise! Didn’t see you there… Uh, hello, Denizens of the Deep, we interrupt this comic to tell you that we’re — ”
“definitely not stealing apples and stuff off of Root’s boat or any docks whatsoever!”
No, no, my eight-armed friend, what we really want to say is that our creator is still working behind the scenes on our story, and —”
“what is behind the scenes? Is that like when I hide behind my ink cloud?”
— well, yes, sort of, she is using ink to make our story! She wants us to be patient and find stuff to keep us busy in the meantime. She’ll be back soon.”
“What’s soon? A turn of the tide? A turn of the sun? A turn of the moon?”
“I don’t know, these land-people have a different sense of time than we do. Let’s just go keep busy, and see if we can find some more land-stuff that’s fallen in the water.”
“Now you’re talking, two-arms!”

mermaid and octopus3.jpg

Yes, folks, I’m still alive! — I’ve just been snowed under with a veritable tempest of other projects, including scripting ahead on this one. But the clouds are parting, and the sun is shining on the glittering waters of free time again. So, more than a tide, less than a moon, and I’ll begin posting here again. — Karen

Octopus Glamour!

Here’s the third in the week-long series of A Mermaid a Day sketch cards for you to download! I know this one’s not a mermaid, but in honour of Root’s young friend’s pet, I present an octopus suitable for any festive occasion. Please see the permissions blurb below:

mermaid sketch card 3.jpg

You have my permission to use, for personal use only, any of these to make home-printed stickers, postcards, iron-on patches, place cards for a mermaid party — if your home printer can do it, have at it! You can even use them for your avatar on social media, if you credit me. Just don’t sell them or print them commercially or remove my teeny imprint, please.  The originals of these are tiny, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, so don’t expect them to print large; I’ve uploaded them at full resolution, though, so they should be suitable for small uses as mentioned above.

Root Redwing 7


Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay

Those eyes! Even grumpy Root can’t resist.

Technical note: the texture on the octopus’s skin and the bubbles were created by using the brush setting (in the brushes panel) for “spattering”. If you’re learning Photoshop (as I still am and probably will always be), play with the brush settings on a blank canvas—it’s really fun and you’ll discover stuff like this!

Root Redwing 6


Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay

Who is this young merkid? And why is she hanging around with this ne’er-do-well of an octopus? Aha! They’re a team! I wonder what Chirikik would think of this?

Root Redwing 5


Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay

This is probably my favourite panel of the whole story! I decided to use a kind of all-over, abstract design for the sequence rather than panels, to reflect the chaos of what probably only took a minute or two in story time, but had a lot of action to convey. Octopuses are really fun to draw, especially if one can anthropomorphize them a bit and give them expressions. And there’s a bit of a nod to Tin-Tin’s Captain Haddock’s inventive curses with the alliteration here. I think I’m going to have to work on Root’s colourful vocabulary for her future appearances in Mermaid Music!

Schedule Change!

Hi Mer-folks! I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve been up to lately — it’s been a busy time in my little world.

First: I’ve decided to move my posting day back to Monday. There are a couple of reasons for that; one is that the common wisdom of posting webcomics (I’ve been reading books on it!) is that Monday is the best day to do it in terms of readership (apparently people look at webcomics at work — really? I want that job! OK, I guess I take breaks to look at webcomics too, heh); so in aid of Monday procrastinators everywhere, I’ll bow to the pressure. The other reason is that my own schedule has had some changes, and this will now work better for my own work flow.

Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

Remember this? I posted last spring that I was making a comic about Root Redwing as a younger woman, which was published in the Kraken Komiks anthology “Cephalopods”. Kraken had a six-month exclusive on it, which has now expired, and I will be posting the entire story as a Mermaid Music special in between chapters of the main story (chapter two is drawing to a close) sometime in November! This will give me a chance over the holidays to catch up on my backlog (is that some kind of a verbal paradox?) as well as give me a chance to do some organizational changes to this website.


Winding up the show at the Shatterbox  Coffee Bar (I’m all hopped up on good coffee here)— those are the mer-cats on the wall behind me! It was a delight having my art in the cafe setting rather than a gallery for a change; it feels more homey, somehow.

I’ve finished the children’s book I was illustrating, as well as illustrations for an adult-level educational book — what an intense summer and fall! And I can’t show off any of it yet (picture me dancing around in frustration, clutching my portfolio of top secret documents), but should be able to in a month or so, when the publisher’s catalogue comes out. The children’s book will be coming out in April, and I am very proud of the work I did for it, so I’m very excited about its release. It’s quite different from my comics work, much of it involving very detailed paintings and drawings of lots of sea critters, which had to be scientifically accurate. But there was also some narrative illustration, which gave me a chance for some storytelling and even some humour.

I’m taking part in Inktober again this year, which is a drawing challenge started by Jake Parker, which has spread like wildfire all over the art world. As with the Opus drawing challenge I did in February, I’m planning to make a little book out of it. I’m using a Moleskine Japanese Album again, which has accordion folded pages, just enough for a month’s drawing-a-day. It’s such a good warmup, I think I will keep going with it after this month — I think my next book should be mer-folk (and mer-cats, of course)!

inktober 2016 4.jpg

A drawing from my Inktober 2016 project. The little sketchbook is based on my nostalgia for old Mark Trail Sunday comics, and I think I’ll call it “True Animal Facts and Lies”. The drawings are 3.5 x 5.5 inches, about the size of a typical comic panel, and based on a prompt word for each day. Ink and coloured pencil.

Inktober 20.jpg

A tidepool Inktober cartoon. I did a similar (but more scientific and detailed and without captions) drawing for the upcoming children’s book. It was fun to do a bit of anthropomorphizing! 3.5 x 5.5 inches, ink and coloured pencil

See you on Monday with the next page of Mermaid Music!

New Posting Day

Hi there Merfolk, I’ve decided to change my posting day to Fridays, for a number of reasons. The main one is that I always seem to be putting the finishing touches on a page , scanning, and scheduling for posting on the weekend, and my weekends are often very full — I’m a musician as well, and that’s when the gigs happen! My weekdays, on the other hand, are when I do my artwork, and I’m trying to establish a rhythm (and a bit of separation) between my two jobs.

Since this is a holiday weekend (at least here in Canada) I’m going to take this opportunity to make the swap. I’ll have the next page ready for your enjoyment next weekend, wherein we learn more about these young denizens of the deep.

In other news:

The Kraken Komiks Cephalopods anthology is compiled, laid out, and at the printers waiting proofing — we’ll be seeing the physical results on Wednesday. The artwork looks great — I’m really impressed with the quality and the variety of ways people can interpret a theme. In lieu of a regular Monday page, here’s another whole page from my story — Root gets to wrestle an octopus! This is actually a kind of prequel to the thread that is beginning in the main story, though it took place years before — Root is a young woman here.

Root&Kraken F5

Root Redwing meets her match in “Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay”, a short story in the new Kraken Komiks anthology “Cephalopods”!

If you’d like to see some more samples from it (I showed one in my last post), here’s the Kraken Komiks facebook album with samples of everyone’s artwork! If you’d like to order one, head over to my own Facebook Page, and send me a message. I’m basing how many I order on pre-orders. Once we have the physical book in hand, we’ll be able to weigh it and figure out the postage to various locations.

Also, I’ll have a table at a couple of conventions in April-May: CCAF in Victoria, BC, and VanCAF in Vancouver BC, and I’ll have copies of all my comics, as well as the next physical book of Mermaid Music, and Cephalopods. More about that soon!

Now, back to the deeps — I’ll see you on Friday with the next new Mermaid Music post!

Spring Forward—Ack! I Tripped!

Hi folks, there will be a slight delay in this week’s Mermaid Music — I’ll be posting tomorrow (Tuesday) instead of today. All kinds of things have been happening here — new projects, new neighbours, tons of events— and, well, I’ve burned through my buffer again. Never fear, however; we’ll be back on track with a proper Monday post next week.

The most exciting project with relevance to this comic is that I’ve just completed an eight-page story about Root Redwing in her younger days for an anthology by Kraken Komiks, a group of comics creators that I hang out with here in Victoria, BC. Here’s a panel with an actual MERMAID to make up for you having to wait until tomorrow for the next instalment!

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

It was drawn in ink, with brush-pen, somewhat larger then I usually work, then coloured digitally in greyscale with Photoshop (which took way longer than watercolour, by the way — but I’ve been doing watercolour for about a million years and digital only a couple). I learned a lot doing it though, as I did a lot of experimenting to get it to look the way I had envisioned it. I’ve worked very little in greyscale, either digitally or traditionally; it’s always been straight black-and-white or full colour for me. This was harder than either!

If you’re interested in what else I’ve been up to the last month or so, head on over to my main blog, Karen Gillmore Art! I’ll post more about the upcoming anthology soon; the theme is cephalopods, and it will be in print around the middle of April! I’m also planning to have a new print issue of Mermaid Music out by Mid-May, so stay tuned.

UPDATE: Well, the new page is posted, and technically, it’s still Monday (it’s 11:35pm). Hope it was worth the wait!