Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Evolution of an art career

As I type, I am feeling strong emotions. I just spoke to my sister and found out that my stepfather died a few months ago. He was a strange guy. He married my mother many years ago just before she got sick and lived as a loner as he had before they met. He died in the house that my mother dreamt of. I understand the house is in such disrepair it needs to be torn down. My career is like the house, 100 years old and needs to be disassembled. I grew up loving comics and cartoons. Mom bought me all the Peanuts books. My goal was to be a strip cartoonist like Charles Schulz. In 2009, that is like having your eye on the job of being a blacksmith or buggy whip salesman.

Over the years, I have been hip to trends and quick to adapt. The hard part is having to learn so many disciplines. I started using the computer for print, then web, cd, dvd, video, commercials, big screen and mobile. I used to be unique because I had an interesting drawing style, now I am one of a million. The internet made delivery of art so much easier. In the old days, I would airbrush a project and have it shipped, but now the world is also a click away. Cartoon characters like mine are now available for $3 from stock photos. A friend from Tai Chi is getting 1-minute of animation from a company in India for $500. For me, the writing is on the wall, the dream part of my art life is over. I am not going to be syndicated cartoonist and my shows are not going to be on TV. This is a hard pill to swallow, but the world has changed again and I have to follow.

I have chosen iPhone apps as my comedic outlet for now. Who knows what the world will be doing in a few years, but for now people are very focused on the iPhone. It's kind of like creating a show, but an interactive one. This app focuses on my Boss character and people get to beat him up. I am alone on this project, no partners. I have made all the decisions. Doing most of the work yourself leaves you in a strange place. I don't have co-workers to share the burden emotionally or financially. People close to me like the idea but that is as far as it goes. If the idea makes it big most people in my life won't notice, if it flops the same.

The programmers are about a week or so from finishing, after that will be Apple approval time. I have been careful to not include elements that will cause disqualification. There still could be problems, but I believe I have a clean program. At one point, you hit the Boss with a phone. I had them remove the busy signal noise because Apple doesn't like mimicking phone maladies. Now I am planning the website, the app needs to be available and easily found.

If my app is successful I would like to get hired by a major player and work with other creatives. I have been working alone long enough.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Beat the Boss is getting closer to being playable. My goal is to make a game that is winnable but not too easy. Some games are technically on the money but not fun. The idea is to beat the living crap out of the Boss. The play is simple, throw enough punches to knock him out before time runs out. It does get a little stressful when you can't hit the guy. I am going level by level testing trying to make my phone blow up. One change I made is changing pencils to push pins, they are better to throw. What is cool is they build up on the screen. Things are moving on, soon will be time to divide between a free version and a paid version. All the little things need to be attended to including the ability to upgrade for $2.00. I also want to automatically ask for a rating after the second play. My YouTube commercials are ready to go, still too soon to start marketing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

App Store Genius

It's a little bit of a mystery when Apple does an update. As consumers we are not sure what is different. This one adds an App Store Genius. Apple's idea is to have iTunes recommend apps just like it recommends songs. What it doesn't do is make determinations based completely on your behavior. What you have deleted isn't counted, it's more about what you keep and what others buy that own that same app. Either way it's kind of a big brother approach. Songs are kind of like apps, there are a ton of them. It's tough to find a new song without a recommendation. I have Sirius radio in my car, I always know who plays what I am listening to, digital technology has made that an easier task. This Genius thing is cool, I just hope that the information stays with Apple. I was looking for an umbrella a while ago. Now every time I surf the web, umbrella ads show up post haste. I know I am trying to sell a product and I will appreciate sales. What is weird is this science of selling. Every move we are making is being analyzed. From that data you are bombarded every chance possible with an enticement to buy that umbrella. Apple is in the information game as well as Google and others. The world wants to sell you something and you are not going to hear the last of it till you do. My question now is if I buy the damn umbrella will they leave me alone. Here is an article on Cnet discussing it further. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/iphone31/

Friday, September 11, 2009

Freebie, Upgrade, or "In App" purchase?

Beat the Boss is getting closer to finalizing, but there are so many details it may still be longer than I hoped till I hit the finish line. The timing of the game is good because the economy is bad, people will be pissed for a long time. The subject of hitting your Boss is nothing new, I am providing a 2010 delivery method. AT&T is running at 300 percent because of Smart Phone usage. The size of the app is an issue. I know for a fact that being under 10 megs will be essential for the free version. 10 megs is the limit for "over air" downloads. Previous apps I have made were too large and people gave up if they weren't at a Wi-Fi spot. My free version will have an option to remind yourself to buy the full version with an angrily written e-mail sent by the Boss. I have had thoughts of selling new levels as in "in app" purchase. From what I have read, people see a short sales spike right after you upgrade. Being my game is level dependent, I can keep adding levels indefinitely. Now my thought is, how often?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bluetooth StyleYapper $19.95

In previous posts, I have mentioned my hassles connecting the iPhone with stereo bluetooth connectivity. It gave me a thought that stereo bluetooth headsets that connect to iPhones should be sold on infomercials. According to the experts, the things that work on infomercials are items dealing with cleaning, pain, fat, bad hair and bad teeth that cost $19.95. A bluetooth headset doesn't fit in that category even if you have bad choppers. My idea now is to combine bluetooth with the success of the Instyler so that you can answer the phone while styling your hair. I am hesitant to even write this article. My fear is that my idea will be stolen and knocked off in China. Imaging straightening your hair while yapping on the iPhone. Thinking about it, people in China already have straight hair, the big bluetooth hairbrush rip-off may not happen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rokr Bluetooth Headset Update

My main reason I wanted the Rokr bluetooth stereo headset is to be able to ride my rode bike, listen to music and automatically answer the phone when I get a call. Sometimes I need a ride to organize my thoughts. This set up would be very cool. The guy at Fry's said that it works with the iPhone, he was half right. My first ride I got a call, it beeped in my ear and I hit the answer button...no action. I had to pull over, fumble, slide to the right, during which time it switched modes. Also changing songs forward or back does not work. I tried to make the face of the phone available for song changes but the problem is the face goes to sleep after a few minutes. You have to slide to the side to wake up, total pain in the butt. I almost rode into a tree. My guess is by Christmas time there will be plenty of compatible headsets available. Stereo bluetooth on an iPhone is very new, industry has to catch up. Motorola could score if they made an iPhone compatible Rokr, this one is really close. So, back it goes to Fry's. That place drives me crazy, but that's another story.

Chia Obama

This has very little to do with my new app but it''s worth mentioning. This morning I saw a post on Facebook from my niece's husband Tony. He was floored by the fact that he saw a commercial for "Chia Obama". About 6 months ago I had pitched Chia to do an iPhone app. I had a virtual board meeting discussing the possibilities of taking their brand to the iPhone. The owner is not a young guy, he believes all the youngsters he hires who say "yes" so they can keep their jobs. He showed us Chia Obama. I almost hacked up a hair ball. Joe insisted that the African Americans he asked thought it was a great product. Hoogaduh! hoogaduh! (That is the sound of a cat coughing up that hair ball)

Who would buy this? If I walked into any one of my friend's house and saw that on the mantle I would fall out laughing...then leave. My friend's are smarter than that. I can see it on some racist liberal hating college student's toilet tank, that's about it. It is flat out a bad product. Walmart pulled it from the shelves, but amazingly they said yes to the original order in the first place.

Joe was excited about an upcoming TV interview to be filmed. It ended up a foot in mouth interview where he appeared to be a "Cracker". His minions were on vacation unable to help in damage control.

What we suggested was do a Chia app that demonstrates all their products. Virtual iPhone Chia's. Charge $1, then donate the money to charity to try and save face. They were concerned people would not buy real Chia's if they could get one on an iPhone. My question was, how many of your customer's own iPhones? The idea was to spread the word. Instead his bobble headed "Yes Men" helped him design a Chia Statue of Liberty. It looks absolutely ridiculous, the French are offended and want her back.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

National Boss's Day

I was getting worried that the game will turn out to be glitchy. There is a lot of interaction. I tested the latest version today up to 8 weapons. It works. I think the game play is a success. You kind of almost throw the phone by swiping your thumbs. It gets kind of frantic. It does takes some skill to beat the clock, but the game does have addictive qualities. It is starting to get interesting, I hope the public likes it. Soon it will be time to start the marketing effort. Not quite yet, the app needs to be completed and submitted to the App Store first. Soon, YouTube and a T-Shirt contest. I am hoping to be able to promote the app for "National Boss's Day" October 16th.


Exactly one year ago I was doubled over in pain suffering from my second bout of kidney stones. One of the reasons that this happens is because I don't drink enough water. Creative people are weird, kind of like baseball pitchers…head cases. The idea is to get into the groove and come up with some great ideas. Throw strikes. This can take hours or two days. Personally I forget to eat, much less drink. A kidney stone attack hurts in places you don't know you have. Twice this has happened in my life. Believe me, it's some major league pain. While you are creating your own app, don't forget to exercise and drink water. Man cannot live on Red Bull alone. I now know the meaning of a procedure called, "lithotripsy". I wish I didn't.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Snow Leopard

I'm working on a Mac. Snow Leopard is the latest Apple software update. There are annoying glitches that are supposedly addressed and some new functionality. I draw using Adobe Illustrator. One hassle that I have always dealt with is not seeing a preview of those Illustrator files. Now, the icons show you a mini picture of the content of the file. Small thing but huge for me. I have been using Macs for 15 years. It has never been perfect, there is always a bug. It seems as though computing has moved into an era where the main focus is to take advantage of the processor and move packets of information effectively using the Intel Highway. I am really concerned about glitches in my program. People are getting used to things working well. If your game hangs up or crashes your audience will write bad reviews and vaporize.