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1000 miles of light: image blog

Detox to Retox theme by Marg

Woodblock swan

Posted 4 months ago with 23 notes






echo [ink drawing on the back of a pencil drawing] 

Posted 4 months ago with 4 notes

battle [ink sketch]

Posted 4 months ago with 3 notes





After a discussion last week with several of my cartoonist peers (and at the behest of Steve Bissette): I want to talk about image theft and uncredited content on social media. I’m only going to speak from personal experience (and only about the one image posted above) but I hope that this example will show the disservice this causes to any artist whose artwork is edited and reposted without credit.

[Disclaimer: I post all my work online for free. I want people to read, enjoy, and share my work. I have no problem with people reposting my work if it’s credited and unaltered. (That way new readers can find their way to my site to read more.) My problem is when people edit out the URL and copyright information to repost the images as their own for fun or profit.]

Below, I’ve listed the sites where my comic was posted and how many times it was viewed on / shared from each of those sites. (The following list was composed from the first ten pages of Google.) Let’s take a look at the life of this comic over the last 11 months.

On January 23 (2013) I posted the comic on my journal comic website, Intentionally Left Blank, and on my corresponding art Tumblr (where it currently has 5,442 notes). The same day, it was posted (intact, with the original URL and copyright) to Reddit. (There, credited, it has received 50,535 views.)

The Reddit post alone was exciting but on January 24, someone posted an edited version of the image (with the URL and copyright removed) to 9GAG. That uncredited posting has been voted on 29,629 times and shared on Facebook 22,517 times. That uncredited image caught on and spread like wildfire:

January 25: LOLchamp (39 comments. Views unknown.)
January 26: WeHeartIt. (With the 9GAG ad at the bottom. Views unknown.)
January 26: Random Overload (2 Facebook likes. Views unknown).
January 26: CatMoji (41 reactions. Views unknown.)
January 26: The Meta Picture (1,800+ Facebook likes. 6,000+ Pintrest shares)

February 5: damnLOL. (929 Facebook shares. Views unknown.)
February 7: LOLhappens. (1,400+ Facebook shares.)
February ?: LOLmaze (121 shares)
February ?: LOLzbook (37 likes and 37 shares).

On March 25, I was lucky and this comic was featured in a Buzzfeed post 36 Illustrated Truths About Cats.” The comic was featured alongside work by a 35 other artists who I admire and aspire to be. (Exciting!)

Buzzfeed was able to trace the uncredited image back to me and listed a source link to my main website but still posted the uncredited version of the image. The post currently has 6,000+ Facebook shares, 14,000+ Facebook likes, and 727 Tweets. Ever the optimist, I’ll count those numbers in the “credited views” column.

The problem with Buzzfeed posting the uncredited image and only listing the source underneath was: people began to save their favourite comics from the article and repost them in their personal blogs without credit. (13, 3, and 60 Facebook likes, respectfully.) I’m mentioning this not to target Buzzfeed or the individuals reposting, but to show the importance of leaving the credits in the original image.

March 30: FunnyStuff247. (47,588 views.)
March 31: LOLcoaster. (1 Facebook like. Views unknown.) 

April 5: ROFLzone. (1,200+ Facebook shares. Views unknown.)
April 26: LOLwall. (70 Facebook likes. Views unknown.)

July 23: The uncredited image was chopped into four smaller pieces and posted on the Tumblr of TheAmericanKid, where he sourced it to FunnyStuff247. (124,786 notes and featured in #Animals on Tumblr.)

Aug 21: (87,818 views and 41,400+ Facebook shares.)

Oct 2: MemeCenter. (284 Facebook likes. Views unknown.)
Oct 5: FunnyJunk. (3,327 views.)
Oct 10: LikeaLaugh. (1,486 views.)

Nov 20: Quickmeme(280,090 Facebook shares. Views unknown.)
Nov 20: JustMemes. (6 Facebook shares.)

There were 14 other sites which listed uncredited versions of the image within the first 10 pages of Google, but they were personal blogs so I’m not going to include them here.

One additional website I haven’t mentioned was Cheezburger, who originally posted the uncredited version of comic on January 23; but later modified it to the credited image after I contacted them. They didn’t contact me when they made the change but the image currently has 2,912 votes and 4,700 Facebook shares. Let’s be optimistic and count those as credited views and shares.

That brings us up to the current views and shares of the comic. Now let’s do some math.

I’ve removed the comments and reactions (because they could already be accounted for in views). I’ve left in votes, however, because some sites list votes instead of views.

Taking into consideration that Tumblr notes are made up of both likes and reblogs, let’s be conservative and say the Tumblr notes are twice as high as they should be. (That every single person that has viewed the image on Tumblr has liked the image and reblogged it.) Dividing the Tumblr notes in half, that leaves us with:

Posts using the credited image:
2,912 votes
2,721 Tumblr notes
727 Tweets
0 Pintrest shares
14,000 Facebook likes
10,700 Facebook shares

Posts using the uncredited image:
29,629 votes
62,393 Tumblr notes
0 Tweets
6,000 Pintrest shares
2,085 Facebook likes
347,984 Facebook shares

Adding those up and treating them all like views (assuming that every shared post was viewed once):

The original (unaltered, credited/sourced) version of the comic has been viewed 81,595 times.

The edited, uncredited/unsourced version of the comic has been viewed 588,310 times. (That’s over half a million views. Seven times more than the original, credited version.)

What does that mean for me as a creator? On the positive side, I created something that people found relatable and enjoyable. I succeeded at that thing I try to do. But, given the lack of credit, it also means that 88% of 669,905 people that read this comic had no chance of finding their way back to my website.

This was a successful comic. I want to be able to call this exposure a success. But those numbers are heartbreaking.

Morally, just the idea of taking someone’s work and removing the URL and copyright info to repost it is reprehensible. You are cutting the creator out of the creation. But worse yet, sites like 9GAG are profiting off the uncredited images that they’re posting.

9GAG is currently ranked #299 in the world according to Alexa rankings. As of April of this year, their estimated net worth was around $9.8 million, generating nearly $13,415 every day in ad revenue.

As a creator of content that they use on their site: I see none of that. And I have no chance of seeing any kind of revenue since readers can’t find their way back to my site from an uncredited image.

I don’t want to sound bitter. The money isn’t the point. But this is a thing that’s happening. This isn’t just happening to me. It’s actively happening to the greater art community as a whole. (Especially the comics community. Recent artists effected by altered artwork/theft off the top of my head: Liz Prince, Luke Healy, Nation of Amanda, Melanie Gillman, etc.) Our work is being stolen and profited off of. Right this second.

I do my best to see the positive in these events but the very least I can do as a creator is stand up in this small moment and say “This is mine. I made this.”

Something need to be done by the community as a whole: by the readers as well as the creators. We need to start crediting our content/sources and reporting those who don’t. Sites like 9GAG need to be held accountable for their theft of work. If you see something that’s stolen: say something to the original poster, report the post, or contact the creator of the artwork.

If you have an image you’d like to post but don’t know the source: reverse Google image search it. Figure out where it came from before you post. If you like it enough to share it, it means there’s probably more where that came from.


I normally try to avoid too much reblogging to this blog, but I feel like this is important to share, since a lot of my images go through this, and I think people don’t realize how damaging just one little edit like this can be. To be fair, I should be putting my url on everything. But in some cases it wouldn’t have made a difference; I’ve had particular difficulty with some parts of my comics being used as reaction images, so credits and signatures make no difference, as they are cropped down. People question why it bothers me, because “everyone knows it’s mine anyways, my art is so recognizable”… People forget that there are a large amount of people out there who don’t even know Sherlock, and so they’re not gonna know what one fanartist’s work looks like. 99% of artists are not famous enough for this kind of thing not to be damaging. Eventually I’d like to make more original works, and if this happened to something I was depending on, something that was entirely mine, it would be endlessly frustrating.


These are my unspoken worries and realistic fear. These are the complaints that should be the art community as a whole. Please read

“It” is that precious quantity which lets you make artwork which is better than good and sometimes “it” allows for work which is truly inspired, but I learned from working on monthly deadlines for Kodansha and Dark Horse, you couldn’t depend on “it”. It was capricious and wispy, disappearing for periods of time, sometimes only half returning, or returning for only half as long as you want it. It’s also a problem to have to create work on deadlines without “it”. That is a killer. Too much of that kind of thing will beat you into a peculiar kind of self-loathing, hard to describe, but which makes your face in the mirror unbearable for yourself to look at. But you can get “it” to come and stay with you when you have great discipline and work hard without distractions. This is why I like working for three days straight. Those first few pages of Escape are pure “it.” And that set the standard I had to follow, which meant to keep on working until “it” came back, which “it” always does eventually. When I’m most discouraged and begin thinking I have no talent at all, I recognize that as the lowest point of the process of making art and ride it out. Looking back on Kirby’s work, or Toth’s, they seemed to always have “it,” even in their obvious mistakes and their sloppy work. I get mad at myself, then, for the vain luxury of complaint. You have no excuse, I say, or something in me says. You live in a part of the world where you can do just about anything you want. Not everything but anything. No one is firing mortar shells at your block. There are no attack dogs, no mustard gases are ruining you. No one is poaching you for your tusks. You’ve got no excuse.

So I try brewing coffee, then change the music on the CD player. Nothing helps. So I leave my place. I don’t do my laundry, which is dirty and shoved into a narrow crevice in my closet. I don’t do my dishes, dirty and uneven and even dusty in the sink. I don’t pay the bills, their eternally replenishing stack by the mailslot. I don’t put gas in my car, which is always on empty. Instead, then, as I do now, when the deadline stress is too great, I wait until I’m hungry, then go eat Indian food. That day, I called Scott and we went to this place called Taj Mahal to eat Chicken Tikka Masala, spicy, with Nann, no butter. Aloo Matar, and Raita. Mint chutney, too. Lamb Korma, or a sizzling Tandoori platter. Or spicy curry chicken. And Chai or a King Fisher, or a Flying Horse. No dessert. Not long after he and I started working together, we established this custom of eating a big Indian dinner as we were about to enter a serious deadline period. This ritual is intended to brace you for the hard week ahead, and let you celebrate it, too. After all, deadlines are part of this lifestyle, take it or leave it. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. And if you sometimes take a week, or even two, off and do absolutely nothing, you only really steal it from some other week yet to come, and regardless, every third or fourth week seems to be this sleepless, fitful, awful deadline time, with fifteen hour a day work weeks. And you must learn to love this. It’s your lot, your wife, your price. You must love this stress and learn how to burn with it, not to be burnt by it, otherwise it is a miserable servitude without much recompense. This is your garden, now cultivate it.

-Paul Pope, from the intro to THB Circus (1997). 

Also remember that Pope said, in his “In the Studio” essay from PulpHope that “You simply can’t only work when you feel inspired… You can’t always rely on the caffeine or the juice in the iPod. You can’t afford to only work when you feel “it”. I learned early on, you can’t rely on “it” to get you out of a mess.”

(via mendelpalace)

Wow.  Okay.  Yes.  Gonna work today, I guess.

(via toerning)

Posted 4 months ago from toerning with 179 notes





The world’s most viewed TED Talk. In GIFs!

I just can’t reblog this enough. If I filled up my tumblr with just this it wouldn’t be enough. Most of all I wish I could tell my immediate family about this because they perpetuate me growing out of creativity -.-

If you haven’t seen this TED Talk, I highly recommend it.

One of the things I’ve really focused on as a parent is making sure my kids know that making lots of mistakes is the best way to learn something new.  If you get something on the first try it might be exciting, but you haven’t really learned anything.  This is definitely something I was not taught as a child, unfortunately, which made me averse to trying anything new out of a fear of failure.  It’s taken me a long time to retrain my thoughts to not take errors as huge blows to my self-confidence. 

My kids deserve better.  All kids deserve better.  ~JJ

Mistakes mean you are trying and that is never wrong. 

If you get a chance watch this TED talk.


Late at Night.
Part of my comics final; the past several years, in a nutshell. 



actually a big issue.



actually a big issue.

i hope this is the future of 3D printing



First look at Hayao Miyazaki’s newest Samurai Manga. This guy is a machine. I only hope to live as long as this guy, let alone still have the passion, hunger and verve to produce more works. Inspiration



Miyazaki Hayao is such a wonderful person and an enormous inspiration. 

Posted 4 months ago from andpan with 4,788 notes

Anonymous asked: Hello John, Your work is incredible. How long did it take you to find your "voice?" I feel like I am still jumping all over the place and I don't really understand how I am supposed to focus and draw one type of thing all the time. It is making me pretty anxious, which tends to paralyze me so I haven't been doing any good work at all in a while. Thank you so much for everything you share, you are my hero!



First off, thank you!

I used to define “voice” (in regards to illustration) as “what you’re saying” combined with “how you are saying it.” Then, I’d make two fists and mash them together, as if that helped drive my point home. I’m a hand talker, guys.

I don’t know how other people define it, but for my purposes, that seemed like a reasonable definition: what and how? The big trick then, is how do you go about developing those two questions?

It’s funny that you say that I have an established voice, because I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. But, let’s take a look at the premier example of an established voice:


Ok, so that Rockwell guy. Pretty good huh? We closely associate Rockwell with hyper-rendered, almost saccharine-sweet depictions of a mythical Americana. In the majority of his illustrations, he shows us an America without murder, prostitution, sexism, and racism (although he would tackle this in other paintings later), etc. He was quoted as saying “I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be. So I painted only the ideal aspects of it - pictures in which there are no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers…”

The key words there are “it should be.” So in countless Saturday Evening Post covers, he presented to the public an idealized America, shown in the most realistic way he knew how, in an effort to make his fictional America manifest. And in a way, he succeeded, mostly in part because we Americans are a sentimental lot. Flip on the TV and watch any commercials around Christmas, or July 4th, and tell me that America hasn’t bought into that mythology. 

So his “what”: an idealized America. “How”: realistic painting. What happens if you throw either one of those things off? Robert Weaver, grandfather of the “avant garde” within illustration, once said “I wonder how Norman Rockwell would handle this article I have to illustrate titled ‘The Psychological Complications of Being Left-Handed’?” 

It’s not that Rockwell was in any way limited by his voice. In fact, most of what we know about Rockwell flies in the contrary of his work (“The life revealed here is one of anxiety, depression and loneliness, with feelings of failure, neglect and inadequacy.”) It’s that he had something very specific and personal to him that he wanted to express in the best way that he could.  And that’s how I think you should approach your own investigations towards a personal voice.

What is it that you care about? What is personal to you, and only you, that you can speak authoritatively about? What injustices do you see in the world? What stories aren’t being told that you think deserve to be? If you don’t think you can’t answer those questions yet, just sit down and do some writing. Start with what you know. Then branch out, get out of your head; go live your life, read books, have conversations, fall in love. All of this informs your work. 

The “how” is the technical side of this equation. It is your classes on color theory, your countless newsprint pads from figure drawing, and your experiments in your sketchbook. Honestly, it’s the easiest part. It just takes time and good practice to develop. 

And there’s one more little bit that I’d throw in there for good measure, and that’s “why?” Why are you making the work that you are? Dean Cornwell said this of Harvey Dunn’s Leonia school: “Perhaps the most valuable thing that Dunn taught us was honest dealing with our fellow men and a constant gratitude to the maker above for the privilege of seeing the sun cast shadows.” Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, I like this idea of “honesty and gratitude.” As an illustrator, artist, however you choose to define yourself, if you’re in this trade and you have the skillset, you have to ability to influence. What will you do with this ability?


For example, have you guys seen this illustration about “stop and frisk” that Richie Pope posted yesterday? Absolutely killer. I know that the subject matter is very close to Richie’s heart, and you know what? It shows, man. 

If you’re not making good work right now (and let’s be honest, that’s a hard thing to admit to yourself), then you should take heart: that means that for every failed piece, you are one step closer to finding that voice. And that means that tomorrow has the potential to be a much better place than today. You just have to keep at it.

YOU GUYS are my heroes. Images have power. Stories have power. You guys have superhuman, mutant powers. Use them for good.

perfect words from John Lee for all of us trying to find our ‘voice’.


FIRST LOOK: U.S. Trailer for “The Wind Rises”


The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.
All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an “A”, 40 pounds a “B”, and so on.
Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work-and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Art and Fear- David Bayles and Ted Orland (via qweety)

Perfection is intimidating.  I think most artists blocks come from the fear of creating something imperfect.

(via buttastic)

ALSO - The best cure for any problem an artist may have is to simply make more work. Tons and tons of work. Always.

(via kristinasheufelt)

You’ll never know how amazing the spice girls were until you try running in platform sneaks

Posted 5 months ago with 6 notes