Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays From a Bunch of Animals

I'm taking a few days off with the flight back to San Francisco tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll be seeing you all again in 2016.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and being the best support I can ask for. I appreciate it.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Strawberry Dough: The Season's Sweetings Saga

Okay. I’ll admit that my Instagram and Big Cartel pages have taken my attention fully away from my blog for three months and counting. Either way, I’d like to extend a big ol’ THANK YOU to those who have been visiting the Blue Aura Oasis blog for that time!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk art, shall we?!


As I lightly wrote back in August’s Strawberry Dough Retrospective, I began planning out a 4- part series for the next series of travels and tales of Squishy the Sugar Glider and his Alpine Outback posse, called Season’s Sweetings. The main idea of the project was simple: give the audience more of what they’ve asked for since early 2015. Splitting the books up into 26 page parts based on the four seasons starting with autumn was the main takeaway from my brainstorm.

Growing up in New York City for a majority of my life –so far!-, I was able to indulge myself in the lifestyle and quirks of living through all four seasons of the year. Sure, relocating over to the San Francisco Bay Area was helpful for my soul and well- being as a working class adult, but I had to face a very painful fact: only Summer and Autumn truly exists here. That doesn’t sit all too well for drawing out a bunch of silly and philosophical comic pages with a doughnut- obsessed sugar glider, so I was lucky enough to recall all of the blissfully allergic springs, explosively scorching summers, and blistering bittersweet winters of the Tri- State Area in preparation of this series!

Autumn was completed on September 29th and the reception has been rather positive so far. The many elementary school students I have as my growing fan base loved the interactions between the characters of the first book and are definitely beginning to see patterns of their travels. Two big things I needed to enforce this time around. First off-

The Color Use


Wombat strolling on a lonely leaf- flowing pathway was a page with much needed gradient maps to emphasize my view of autumn’s beauty through the grapevine. It could also have something to do with the fact that it’s my favorite season!

Thanks to the success rate of this page, I managed to utilize the digital tool onto my hand drawn pages for better affect on the audience, while reading the narration within the panels.


Whether or not they worked is entirely up to the viewer, of course! And secondly-

The New Character


While coming up with a simple yet effective way to branch the character roster out from the main six animals, I began reaching into my memory bank from April. There was a specific marsupial I drew out as a sort- of Cultural Awareness post for not only Easter, but for extinct species of animals on the continent of Australia. Bilby, the character, was born out of the drawing above. She had a certain flair to her that screamed ‘THIEF’ to me and as I sketched out a few more facial and body visuals in ink over the summer, it became too clear to me that she has to be my next character.


And Squishy’s next rival.

See, Bilby isn’t a one- shot appearance like Dingo. Staring and barking contests can wear thin on a band of marsupials. Bilby has bigger ambitions. In the Autumn book, our introduction has a cunning nocturnal heckler mercilessly nabbing the unhatched egg of an undisclosed animal. Bilby even left a calling card! Talk about bold.

This led to many page ideas of seeing how Bilby’s unannounced run- in with Squishy’s glide for the maple doughnut can indeed throw a monkey wrench into-

Alaok’s Evening of Yoga-


Hedgehog and Echidna keeping predators away from their lime- green buddy-
And finally, food eating contests on the 31st of October.


The book’s topics and length caused an uproar of ideas battling in my head for supremacy of the Winter book-

And while Autumn was all fun and animal shenanigans, the Alpine Outback’s winter was getting-




One thing I’ll wholeheartedly admit while drawing out the Winter pages and drafting out the narration is that I knew this season should bring depth not only to the characters, but the subject at hand. Make no mistake; Strawberry Dough started it’s life as short but silly comedy of errors for an outsider sugar glider and his loyal doughnut. Then while ‘reviewing’ the book a year ago, my dad called me to say these words:

"Y’know somethin’ Aaron? I really just read most of this for the first time and, I think I get it now! This is a book about survival and choosing friends wisely. Heck, adults should get a kick outta this too!"

He wasn’t wrong. One general misconception of comic books and graphic novels at large -especially in America- is that they’re made specifically with only small, dim- witted children and illiterate adults in mind. The truth is that MANY authors and illustrators litter their content with subliminal and subtle messages underneath the tide of humor. For that reason among others, I can’t consider Strawberry Dough -nor SolForce- a Children’s Book.

Without giving too much away, Winter proves that!

Above are just a handful of pages I chose to preview to others before it’s release on December 8th. My grand plan for the ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ books is to explore more of this surprisingly broad setting I’ve established for a year, alongside bringing in a few more Aussie and New Zealand animal inhabitants into the fray to tackle Squishy, Alaok, Hedgehog, Echidna, Bandicoot and Wombat’s comfort zone.


Make sure to share the links to the ‘Strawberry Dough’ books to your social media circles and have a great holiday season!!

Oh, and here’s one more for the road.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The 'Strawberry Dough' Retrospective

A year doesn't seem to go by without getting reminders of your past. In this case, I'm constantly reminded of all of the moves, trials and 'inspiring' photos I take with kids.

Most -if not all- of this is thanks to this guy:

Believe it or not, all throughout my process of tweaking the finishing touches on SolForce Vol. 1: Wave One, one thing was certain...

I started to miss Squishy. That lime- green sugar glider obsessed with sweets to the point where he had to shove a strawberry doughnut onto his wrist actually came in handy! I mentioned in this post from last year before Strawberry Dough's debut what the original intent for the book was. A simple 40- page illustration book to show as a portfolio piece of my art style and storytelling techniques through comic book form was supposed to be only that. Until, of course, word had spread among my social circles that I made a book for sale. 

How in the world does something with the smallest intention lead some slim fit cartoonist from Brooklyn, NY to teaching elementary school kids on both coasts of America cartooning and engineering and forging a self- publishing career path is beyond me! Yet, it happened.

Thanks to that sudden burst of energy on New Year's Eve of 2013 while recreating him, Squishy the Sugar Glider and his outback friends Alaok, Hedgehog, Echidna, Bandicoot, and Wombat -with the occasional contest with Dingo-  helped pave a new direction not just with my career choices, but my own life. It was also thanks to the modest reception of sales and LOTS of creative feedback from students, colleagues and family members that I was able to create small line of merchandise for my shopping site. And, let's be honest.

My main crew, SolForce, wouldn't have made it into their first graphic novel without Strawberry Dough paving the way. I have no regrets putting those watercolor pencils to work on 136 pages! With my hands fully recovered from Wave One, I had to go back to a particular question one third grader from San Francisco asked me while reading Strawberry Dough before his mom picked him up back in April:

'So, are you gonna make more of these? Everyone here liked it! Maybe you can make another one after the SolForce book is finished...'  

That kid was right. Squishy and the gang will return!! This time, Strawberry Dough: Season's Sweetings will be a 4- part series loosely based on the four seasons of the year. I'm beginning with autumn, then winter, spring and summer in that order. Here's the unedited cover for autumn's issue:

Expect cool autumn nights, maple frosted doughnuts, pumpkin- spiked cookie competitions, and apple rolls to keep doctors away from small animals in the outback. Each book will be at least 24 to 28 pages long, making them much cheaper for purchase! Oh, I mention there will be a couple of new characters introduced for all four seasons.

Thanks for reading, folks!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

'SolForce Vol. 1: Wave One' Episode Summaries & Pages

Episode 1: Taste the Sunshine

·         Sunshine City, U.S.A.: the island of prism colored dreams, and zany newscasters. The introduction to the tropical mecca is provided by a days’ worth of citywide broadcasts. All throughout, you will meet the aforementioned members of SolForce, the city’s top recruiter of crime fighters of every kind! Witness interviews with head leader and acrobatic detective John Clue, specialized elemental detectives Robert Miles and Geraldine Archer, former circus act turned vigilante ‘Nitro’ and Martha Clue the nursing major. And if you’re lucky to read all the way through, you may witness a mucky case being solved! 

Episode 2: The Witty Kitty

·        Detectives, bounty hunters and martial artists have no problem keeping their ears to the harbors and streets for the next mission –especially when they earn a badge-. But, what happens if that next duty requires a more teenage approach? Meet Revenda Delgatta, a sarcastic science wiz of a teenage kitten attending high school in the Sunshine City district of Naturopolis. When word hits that a new powerful tonic is beginning to gain steam in the underbelly of high school campuses, Robert Miles reluctantly recruits Revenda after she mistakenly assists SolForce saving Nitro a day before. He figures that with her quick wit and sharp shooting nail-&-yarn antics that she can get to the bottom of it all with hysterically disastrous results!  

Episode 3: Psi- Wave

·         The Psychics, those poised with extraordinary senses not found in any normal toon, are loved and feared in Sunshine City. The nature of their powers can be traced back to the seemingly ancient force known as the Psi- Swirl, an object many found to have been a pivotal force in saving the island from natural disasters for decades before it truly existed. Wise and grizzled astronomer Walden Doolittle is recruited by SolForce to further their research of the Psychics, as he is one. All throughout, he will be assisted by Manny Q., Sunshine City’s oldest resident of 70 years and former inkblot cartoon star, and two fellow –and much younger- Psychics. RaiStar Twinkle, the agency’s mascot who heralds from Rainboa the floating village above the city’s stratosphere and Ceasar ‘A.C.’ Southermire, a cool-as-ice new intern who part times as a graphic designer for the Sunshine Chronicles. Together, they undergo a series of training sessions, cafĂ© hops and a call of action when mysterious creatures from the shadows emerge from the depths of the island!

Check the Blue Aura Oasis shop to order the book and sticker set!