Life gets busy sometimes, and in the first half of 2011, I was as busy as ever. As such, I had to put Running on Empty on hold for a bit, as much as it pained me to do so. I threw this image together as a placeholder for the ROE homepage, giving fans the update on the comic, and telling them to hang on. Such a classic Running on Empty shot, featuring all the main characters, and Jake breaking that fourth wall so well.
Buy Me a Drink
In order to generate some form of revenue from my webcomic site, I considered devoting an entire page to begging for change. But rather than be too obvious about it, I thought it’d be clever to ask for the reader to buy me a drink instead. This was the graphic I created to accompany that message. I ultimately forwent the idea, and resigned the begging to a small callout at the top of every page. Someday, someone’s gonna click on that button. I’m sure of it.
East Coast/West Coast
I created this piece without any real intention of adding any text to it. It was basically just a method to illustrate my personal dilemma of choosing between two very different paths. Looking back on it now, it seems like a lose-lose situation. Abandon everything you know to live in a pseudo-paradise, or stick with what you know and live in eternal winter. A classic choice.
Omnipotence Phase 1: Empowerment
I have a quite a few opportunities in my day to retreat into my imagination, especially during my hour-long commute. A favorite go-to fantasy is considering what I’d do with the power to reshape reality. It began as a thought-experiment, to determine the true value of life, but ultimately became something more. I thought about translating the visuals of my imaginings into a series of comics, each one signifying a phase of omnipotence. This visual is the initial phase in that journey.
Socially Acceptable Music
I created this comic to get across the point that certain music is acceptable to listen to in the company of another, and certain music is clearly not. For some reason, I liked the idea that Devin and Jake were listening to music on a stakeout of some kind, sitting in a run-down muscle car in a back-alley somewhere across the street from a nightclub. I must’ve watched too many episodes of Burn Notice.
Some of the fun of my webcomic is presenting ideas and characters symbolically. This was a stylized look at the Jake character, embracing his dark impulses and laughing about it. I originally intended this piece to be more realistic, but the rough pen strokes worked even better. I came very close to trashing this piece early on. I’m glad I worked through it, ‘cause now it’s one of my favorites.
White Trash Tattoo
The premiere of season four was nothing too special; just a nice quiet but dramatic shot of the two main characters having words. My intention with season four, in contrast to previous comics, was to further meld Illustrator with Photoshop, basically taking a vector base and amplifying it. And ultimately, that's what I love most about creating this comic. It allows me to experiment with my artwork, using technology to push things in new and interesting directions. How great is that?
Running on Empty Season Four
The teaser for season four of my webcomic series was intentionally minimalistic, creating a mysterious aura around the comic's future. It's a nice dramatic shot that I never got tired of as I built the site around it. I've always had a fondness for film teaser posters, so here was my humble shot at one.
It became clear to me when season three began that each of the characters would have to have a lucid identifier, since everyone would be seen in silhouette. Jake was the most obvious, with his affinity for smoking and fighting. All it took to recognize Jake was a cigarette butt and a bandage.
Who is Mr. Dark? (Remix)
This is a reiteration of a previous comic I did (see below), featuring the enigmatic Mr. Dark as a gatekeeper of sorts. The color motif is meant to reflect the Fixed LP by Nine Inch Nails.
In the Process of Killing Myself
You don’t even need the words to get this punch line. This particular comic really typifies the general attitude of the Running on Empty series. Here’s what one fan said:
“Absolutely LOVE the webcomic! ...The adventures of Jake and the others do a perfect job at keeping the ‘fuck it’-attitude up. Keep up the good work!”
External Combustion Engine
This piece turned out a little differently than how I originally pictured it, but I’m still satisfied with the result. The great thing about dealing in vector graphics is the flexibility of the artwork. For the debris, I just had to take apart the vectorized Chevy Chevelle that I had created for a previous comic.
It Ends Tonight
There’s something very dramatic to me about a torrential downpour. Running on Empty has several plot twists woven into it (all my stories do), and I created this piece as a means to reveal at least one of those twists. Just imagine Dan whispering some earth-shattering secret. Very schway.
This is one of my favorite pieces from season three: Devin jumping a classic car in a Memphis Raines-type escape. In comics, the common method to represent a speeding car is to show it flying through the air. By my thinking, the higher the car, the faster it has to be traveling. Looks like Devin must be closing in on 200 MPH.
End of the Line
I was rummaging through a bunch of old sketches and found an old thumbnail of a man confronted by an Apache helicopter. I scrapped it, because I didn’t have the patience to draw an entire helicopter. But now, with Photoshop and Illustrator at my fingertips, I said “I can create this in five minutes.” And I did.
God is God
Initially, I was going to create a creepy image of Mr. Dark looking at the audience from a distance, but the image changed into this. The character with the cane was slated to appear in season two, but his scene was cut. Who is he? I call him Mr. Light.
I Give You a Choice
This was based on an original drawing I had done years previous, seen here. The gun is a Mark XIX Desert Eagle.
Running on Empty Season Three
In anticipation of Running on Empty’s third season, I posted three different teasers on the site’s main page. Each teaser featured one of the three core characters with a tag line that related to their personality.
For Jake, I established the easily recognizable motif of the ubiquitous cigarette and bandages that were evidence of his rowdy lifestyle. The tagline was suitably lewd.
Running on Empty Season Three
Finally, Dan (AKA me) is featured, looking contemplative and mildly morose. Before I decided to make Mr. Dark such a big player in the series, I had intended to make my character identifiable by his suit to symbolize that he had recently landed a day job. Thankfully, my hairstyle is just as easily recognizable.