Unconditional Hugs, the comic strip about a Teddy Bear and his Boy comes to an end today, after 52 strips I am closing out what has been a year-long creative journey for me, as I attempted to teach myself how to draw comic strip stories.
What Is Unconditional Hugs?
Unconditional Hugs tells a story about Tristan the Teddy Bear, and the adventures he had with his Boy. I limited it to four panels, and tried to tell emotional drive stories. That way I didn’t have to tie myself to a punch line and could tell any type of story I wanted.
Why A Comic Strip?
I had never attempted to draw sequential (comic) panels before, I can do single figures, and limited full illustrated pieces, but always balked at the challenge of telling a visual flowing story from my own hand. Up to now I had written a few comic book strips, but never drawn a comic. I wanted to see if I could do it, and Unconditional Hugs was my testing ground.
The First Strip
The first comic strip was more by accident than design, I had an idea in my head and ran with it. This accidental first strip though set up what I wanted to do with Unconditional Hugs.
The story in essence is a fantasy, a relationship and how the Boy see’s his reality with a Teddy Bear who actually is alive, but can never let his Boy know. I decided we would never see the Boys face, and emotions would be played through the silent expressions of the Teddy Bear, who would be the heart of the story and could address the reader directly.
I also decided that the Teddy Bear would always be bigger than the Boy when they hug, because a Teddy Bear always is much larger when you hug it.
With these parameters set, I went about the business of writing the comic strip. It was rather a new experience for me trying to tell a story in four panels. You see a sample script below.Story – Swing Break
Boy swinging on tire – Wheeee!!!
Tristan watching amused
Boy Swinging – Tire swing snaps (SFX)
Boy in motion flailing – Yikes!!!
Tristan face alarmed
Boy landed on Tristan – Tristan looking a little flat – Khumphhh! (SFX)
Boy – Good catch Buddy
Tristan – ouch expression
With both hands up and a grin on my face I will say that my biggest influence when I was drawing Unconditional Hugs was the amazing Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. You can draw comparisons in some of my stories to Mr Watterson’s it is hard not to, I have read pretty much everything put out by the master of comic strip story telling. Subconsciously I am sure some stories followed the same line. We all go far by standing on the shoulders of Giants, right?
One Cool Moment
I was invited by my local Melton Mowbray home paper in the UK called the Melton Times to submit Unconditional Hugs to be included in their weekly newspaper. I sent out a dozen sample strips (all my work at that time) and a small cartoon panel to see if I they would like it. While this was cool moment for me, Unconditional Hugs wasn’t really ready for this type of publication and I never did hear back from the papers editors.
First Panel Gallery
A cool way for you to see how the art style for Unconditional Hugs evolved throughout the year.
All Good Things
Here we stand at the end of a 52 comic strip journey, the last comic strip is published on UnconditionalHugs.com and I can put this chapter to bed.
I have learned a lot about comic strip story telling, about trying to keep my art consistent and telling short, fun, emotional stories. I wish I could say Unconditional Hugs was a breakout success, but it wasn’t and I think the total viewing figures numbered in the hundred’s.
Thank you to everyone who viewed what was really an experiment and test bed for me. While this is the end of Tristan the Teddy Bear and his Boys adventures in Unconditional Hugs, it isn’t the end of Tristan’s story, 2015 is going to bring some big changes for our Teddy Bear and I hope you come along for the ride.
Thank you all for your eyes, and your support 🙂