A Midsummer Night's Upload

That’s right, my friends, the next chapter is live!

With the help of Nora, Gregory secures another show as Jair Newman. Timothy and Charles plan a gallery opening right across the street from Amanda’s gallery so they can funnel audiences away from Nicholas’s exhibit of Gregory’s old work, which, as we’ll see in the next installment, will turn out just to be Nicholas’s fakes. The plot is certainly thickening, my friends. I do hope you’re enjoying what you’re reading.

Incidentally, this song, “My New York Is You”, is one of the first “standards” I wrote way back in 2001, when I began work on the Ideal Home Music Library, Vol. 1. I wrote the song “My New York” with my old friend Jenny Deller, and actress/ filmmaker whom I was dating at the time. She and I wrote the song in a dark room in her parent’s house in Carbondale, Illinois in the spring of 2000, I believe.

This version of the song differs slightly from the original version, which appears on the HUSH Records compilation FLAG and on my second album. For Success!, I changed the couplet rhyme scheme from straight rhymes to slant rhymes, and turned the song into a duet. I also added the “New York, New York has everything…” verse.

But, in spite of the fact that this version of “My New York Is You” has changed, I still want to dedicate it to Jenny Deller, wherever she may be. If you do a search for the independent film Future Weather, you should be able to find her amazing filmmaking and acting work. Wherever Jenny is, I wish her success.

I also wish you Success! In fact, production has already begun on the next installment. Nicholas is continuing to crack up as he learns that the world doesn’t revolve around him. Look forward to that scene in September.

For now, if you’d like to support the comic, head over to www.patreon.com/successcomic for details.

Until then, happy reading!

It's Opening Night!

The next scene in Success! is live, my friends, and it’s opening night! Gregory and his friends show their work at the Blue Rose Gallery, and the public loves it. In fact, Gregory sells out! And now he wants to take his work to New York. What will happen? What’s going on with Nicholas? Find out in the next installment, due out in late July.

I hope you’re enjoying Success!. If you like what you’re reading (and hearing), consider becoming a patron. You can visit www.patreon.com/successcomic to donate as little as $1 a month to help keep the lights on at Reclinerland HQ.

Thanks in advance for your support. Happy reading!

How Hard Can It Be...

…to work daily on a webcomic? Pretty hard, my friends. Pretty hard. That’s why I’m so glad you’re here with me on this journey. Here we are, only about a month after my last blurb, and we have another scene from Success!

I’m excited to share this little scene with you. Nicholas is starting to overreach in his arrogance. His recent wave of success seems to be going to his head. There is a cynicism in his implied theory that art doesn’t take any skill or talent. His nihilism and his arrogance are starting to show. I think by the end of the scene, Amanda senses it. Time will tell if Nicholas’s new scheme will work. And what about the murder he committed? Is anything going to come of that? Stay tuned, my friends.

I hope you’re enjoying reading Success! If you’d like to support the comic and keep the lights on at Reclinerland HQ, go ahead and visit the donations page, or go to patreon.com/successcomic and become a patron. Your contributions really help keep this project afloat.

See you in a couple of months (if not sooner!) for Act 2, Scene 3!

Act 2!

As promised, I took December off to revise the comic and fix some things. As a result, you’ll find a new Opening Number that looks more consistent with the rest of the comic. In addition, I worked on some disparate revisions. On January 1st, I began drawing this scene. It took me 2 months and a little more, but I hope it was worth the wait.

In this scene Gregory and his new friends decide the way forward is to open their own gallery. As he starts to immerse himself in the creative process, having cast off the yoke of his dependence on Nicholas, Gregory is starting to open up and allow himself to rely on the friendship and support of other people.

This scene comes to you a little behind schedule, for which I apologize. It had so much going on! Lots of characters, lots of black spaces and cross hatching, plus the detailed cityscapes. The opening shot of Portland took me two days alone to draw. Not to mention the length of 33 pages! I worked really hard on it and I hope you enjoy it.

If you do like it, please consider becoming a patron. Your donations help keep the lights on at Reclinerland HQ, and I would really appreciate your help in getting Success! off the ground. Some of my goals are:

  1. A print version of the comic (with CD!)

  2. A high-quality recording of the music and the voices, with real voice actors in the various roles.

If you think these are noble goals, please head over to the donations page and contribute whatever you can. I’m off to work on Act 2, Scene 2 now.

Okay, that’s all for now. See you in April!




Hello, everyone. I just wanted to write a quick blog entry to let you know about the changes that have happened so far. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone and revamped the entire opening number, taking out the color, adding backgrounds, giving more consistency to the characters, and generally making it match the tone of the rest of the comic. As I flip through it, I find it looks more seamless, more consistent, and flows better with the feel of everything that comes after it.

If you liked the original version, don’t worry, I kept it up on the site. You’ll find a link to it just below the contact page.

Now, I’m going to work on Nicholas’s character modeling in the first couple of scenes. I feel like it took me that long to really get his look right. I hope to be done with these revisions by the end of the month, and then I plan to take a small break in December before starting the New Year off with Act 2.

I hope you’re enjoying reading and listening to Success! as much as I’m enjoying making it. Check out the Patreon page if you’d like to become a patron. See you next month!


And with that, dear reader, the curtain closes on Act 1 of Success!. It’s been a long journey for Gregory, from a suicidal slacker parasite hack to finally gaining some self-confidence. I wonder what he’s going to do with his newfound self-confidence. And what will happen to Nicholas now that he’s achieved his goals of sex, money, and popularity? Well, I already know what’s going to happen, and I hope you’re eager to find out when the next upload hits the internet in February.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, Michael. Wait a minute. Did you say February?” Yes, my friends, February. You see, rather than press on with Act 2, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to go back and revise some of the drawings I did on a BAMBOO tablet back in the first few scenes.

That means the next brand new installment of Success! won’t upload until about February of 2019. That seems like a long time from now, but don’t worry, for the rest of this month and into next month, I’ll be giving you updates of my revisions, so you’ll be in the loop.

Speaking of which, if you’d like to be in the loop permanently, head over to www.patreon.com/successcomic and become a regular contributor to the comic. It’s your donations and generosity that make the project possible.

So, while you wait for new content, please enjoy what has turned out to be 253 pages of Success!. Then head out of the hall to the lobby, where refreshments are served and enjoy the relaxing two-month intermission until the curtain rises on Act 2.

Until next time!

Before You!

Before you, dear reader, Success! was just a figment of my imagination. Now I can share the story of Nicholas and Gregory with you. For that I want to thank all of my Patrons and donators for helping to make Success! possible.

I’m pleased to announce that the latest scene is LIVE! That’s right, you can witness Gregory and Nicholas battling it out before Act 1 comes to a close. I hope you’re enjoying the story so far!

The next scene, Act 1, Scene 10, will mark the end of the first act. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but I do want to let you know that the next scene will probably be wrapped up by the end of November. After that, I plan to take some time until the end of the year cleaning up parts of Act 1 that I’m not quite satisfied with. In other words, I’m going to spend December going back and revising the Opening Number, parts of the Prologue, and parts of Act 1, Scene 1 to make them match the rest of the comic. I drew those parts of the comic years ago on a Bamboo tablet, and they just look funny to me now.

To sum up, expect Act 1 to be finished by the end of November and Act 2 to start production by the first of the year.

I’m really enjoying creating Success!, and I’m eternally grateful to you for coming along for the ride. See you in a few weeks!

The Otter and the Caterpillar

Hello, everyone. I'm excited to share this latest chapter with you, not only because I've managed to upload it ahead of schedule, or because Nicholas and Gregory are back in a scene together, but because this scene has some music in it! Leave a comment and tell me what you think of Nora and Gregory's duet!

On a technical note, I hope it isn't too difficult to tell when the vamp in the beginning ends. I know it demands a lot of you, dear reader, to count the number of times you're hearing a certain gesture before turning the page, but, hey, maybe if Success! ever sees a print version an editor can help me work out how to make it simpler. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment.

Anyway, the next scene is going to be awesome. Nicholas and Gregory are getting geared up for a big rooftop brawl, and it should be as challenging to draw as it will be exciting to read. I hope to see you in a couple of months!

One more thing: I forgot to announce the winner of last month's drawing. Congratulations to Stephanie, who won a copy of "This One Summer" by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. What a beautiful book. Lucky Stephanie!

That's all for now. Thank you so much for being part of Success!


It's that Time Again! July!

Whew! Just in time for July 4th, and Bastille Day, I cranked out another chapter, and, boy, did I just barely meet the deadline! This chapter was particularly hard work. All those solid black spaces! All that shading! I don't know how my wrist and hand survived all that cross-hatching. Anyway, here it is, the latest scene in Success! 

I know you must be thinking, "But, Michael, where is the music?" Well, these past few short scenes didn't have any music. The next scene, though...boy-o boy-o boy, will you ever get some music in the next scene, when Gregory and Nora check out Gregory's paintings on display, and people, droves of people, are actually there to look at them! Gregory's really going to break into song. It's going to be exciting.

While you're waiting for the next installment, why not head over to the Patreon page and become a patron of Success!. By doing so, you'll not only help make this comic possible, but you'll get access to lots of cool content, including a monthly drawing for a free comic book.

Speaking of which, since last month's drawing didn't happen, (for which I sincerely apologize), this July, I'm going send one lucky patron two comics! 

By the way, if the tone of this blog post seems a bit more chipper than usual, it's because I just sat through a pirated version of Book of Mormon. (Looks like I'm going to have the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream tonight.) No sleep for the wicked!

Hope you enjoy Scene 7. See you in a couple of months!

That was Quick!

Today I've uploaded a rather short scene in Success!. It's only 5 pages long and it has no song. Timothy and Charles team up to open a new gallery for Charles that they hope will give Nicholas a run for his money.

In the scene coming up, we go back to Portland to check in with Gregory and his new friends. I hope you're enjoying the warmer weather. See you in a couple of months!


Hello, my lovelies. I'm pleased to announce that the next scene in Success!, Act I, Scene 5 is live! When we last saw Nicholas and Amanda they had agreed to work together to put on a show of Gregory's posthumous work. Timothy even agreed to write a glowing review to get people in the door. Now, there's a big party going down at Amanda's gallery! Check out what happens for yourself.

A significant moment occurred when I was drawing this scene. Page 149 was the first page I sketched when I conceived of a comic version of Success!. Check out the blog post from April 24th, 2014, where you can see one of the first pen-and-paper sketches I made of page 149 (of course, I didn't know it was going to be page 149 then.) Here is another version of the sketch, made with a BAMBOO drawing tablet:


And now, six years later, I finally got to draw the finished page. It was a nice feeling to have come full circle. I want to thank all of my wonderful patrons for their support. As a token of gratitude, I drew them into the party scene. See if you can spot them!

If you'd like to be drawn into the comic, or if you'd like to receive other rewards, like success merchandise, participation in a monthly drawing, etc., feel free to make a donation or visit my Patreon page to become a patron. It's your support that makes Success! possible and I can't thank you enough.

The next scene, Scene 6, will be a short one. It's all dialog, so I don't anticipate it will take very long to complete. You'll be hearing from me definitely way ahead of the bi-monthly deadline.

In the meantime, I'm so glad you're here with me. Enjoy!

Happy Belated Valentine's Day/Early St. Patrick's...

Hey, everyone,

Valentine's Day is long past, and St. Paddy's hasn't arrived yet, but here at RHQ, we're drunk on productivity and the joy of creation. Secretaries are swooning, executives are melting in their chairs, and I, your humble CEO, am gazing out my 43rd-floor corner-office window thinking, "Hang on, how did I get here...I don't even have an office!"

The reason things are so topsy-turvy here at Reclinerland HQ? Success!, Act 1, Scene 4 is live! I couldn't be more thrilled to introduce you to some of Gregory's new friends. Please enjoy this latest chapter in Nicholas and Gregory's story.

By the way, my offer still stands. If you'd like to be DRAWN INTO SCENE 5, which starts production in March, visit the donations page. Or, just head over to www.patreon.com/successcomic to make a monthly pledge. You could even just click the button below to make a one-time donation. And, as always, if you're enjoying the comic, spread the word. I so much appreciate your support. Your generosity keeps Success! afloat.

Make a One-time donation

I Will Draw You Into the Comic

Hello, friends,

The next chapter of Success! that is, Act 1, scene 4, goes live this Wednesday, February 28th. I'm excited to share with you Gregory's new group of friends.

The following scene, Act 1, scene 5, begins "production" during the first week of March. As such, I have a special offer for you!

If you go to www.patreon.com/successcomic and make a monthly pledge of $10 or more, or if you make a one-time donation here, via the donations page, I will DRAW YOU INTO THE COMIC. 

That's right, the next scene takes place during a huge gallery opening, with lots of art patrons and waitstaff flitting about. I would LOVE to cast you in the scene. Just make a donation and send me a pic of your likeness. It's that simple.

I hope you'll want to become a part of Gregory and Nicholas's story. For now, see you Wednesday, February 28th when the next scene in Success! goes live!



New Year, New Chapter

Just in time for the New Year, I have a new scene for you! In this scene, on the evening of Gregory's "funeral", Nicholas goes to the wealthy gallerist Amanda and uses a bit of flattery (not to mention a bit of guilt) to get her to show Gregory's works at her gallery, which is the most sought-after in town. 

This scene was not hard to illustrate, but I did some experimenting with the backgrounds. For the sky and the cityscape in the window, I used a different brush to make everything look whispy and gloomy.

To draw the characters quickly, I kept the costumes simple. The challenge came with the perspective in the apartment, with its great curved windows. I had a good time working with drawing perspective in this chapter.

I hit a technical snag with the audio track, though. I had to re-record it because the version I had previously recorded had all of the vocal lines happening at once, which was confusing. This version of the song was the result of a table reading I did in 2015. The vocal lines have been spread out so they can be more clearly heard.

If you're enjoying the comic, and you'd like to donate or become a patron, I would really appreciate your support. Visit the "Donate or Become a Patron" page for more information. Or click here:

Support Success!

I have great news! If you're enjoying reading Success! as much as I'm enjoying creating it, you now have a chance to participate in making Success! a reality by pledging your financial support.

Drawing Success! is a blast, but it's also costly. The costs of hosting the comic, plus updating my software and hardware as technology changes, takes its toll. I'm so glad to have you as one of my readers, and I hope, if you're enjoying the comic, you'll take the next step and consider becoming a patron.

To that end, I've set up a Patreon page. Patreon is a web service that connects artists with fans who might want to become patrons and support their work. You can pledge monthly support for Success! at whatever level you feel comfortable, staring at just $1 a month. 

In exchange for your generous pledge, I'll heap rewards upon you. You'll receive access to a patron-only feed where I'll post goodies. In addition, you'll get early content, behind-the-scenes videos, hand-drawn cards, participation in a monthly drawing, and more. I even offer a trip to the Centre George Pompidou museum on me if you happen to be in the vicinity of Paris, France! Click the button below if you're interested in becoming a patron of Success!


That's all for now. I'm hard at work on the next scene. See you at the next upload!


Here it is!

Whew! I finally finished the latest scene. Can you believe it took me four months? I hope you can cut me some slack.

One of the things that delayed this scene was my move to Paris. But artistically speaking, what probably slowed me down the most was the research I had to do to draw many of the vignettes. The story of Van Gogh, Gaugin, and the fictional Jewish girl which is an obvious nod to Anne Frank, all required a lot of research and study. But I hope, in the end, all that work paid off and that you feel it was worth it.

I've received the odd criticism, by the way, about the inaccuracy of the Van Gogh story. In fact, I walked through the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last weekend feeling slightly uneasy about many of the details in his story that I left out. Would readers think I was a lazy author and that I didn't do enough research? But then, I thought, it isn't me telling Van Gogh's story, it's Nicholas. Nicholas would undoubtedly have only a surface knowledge of Van Gogh's life, and, furthermore, he would only tell the parts that suit his goal, which is to stoke Gregory's romanticized vision of the tortured artist who isn't appreciated in his lifetime. Nicholas wants Gregory to think of himself as a kind of Van Gogh. It's pure manipulation. 

This is by far one of my favorite songs in the play, and so I suppose it's no coincidence that it features my favorite panel. I had a great time drawing the 1940s German street scene, where the pastor is sneaking down the street with the little girl in his coat. I was inspired to create that scene by Catel & Bocquet's graphic novel Josephine Baker, which has some of the most well-drawn cityscapes I've ever seen. As I proceed through this story, and as the story of Nicholas and Gregory winds through different urban locales, I'll be looking to Catel Muller for inspiration. 

Sometimes, I come to a panel where I know I'm going to have to draw every little insignificant detail, like refrigerator handles, wood grains, bits of litter on the ground, or hooks on Gregory's jacket, and the whole thing just seems intimidating. Whenever I feel like packing it in, I remember how important such details are for building the world I'm trying to create. I hope you appreciate my efforts.

Speaking of Gregory's jacket, I can't tell you how relieved I was when he finally gave Nicholas his clothes. After that, it took way less time to draw him. Not to give too much away, but next time you see him he will not only look very different (for he'll be in disguise) but he'll also be wearing a much more simple-to-draw outfit. 

Anyway, I hope to stick to my bi-monthly deadline with the next scene. See you in December!

A Bit Behind!

I'm sorry! I'm a bit behind in meeting my bi-monthly deadline. Act 1, Scene 2, at 33 pages, has turned out to be especially long. I have no excuse except that I moved to Paris this summer. I'm a busy bee, but I'm working as fast as I can. Look on the bright side, though: by mid-September you'll have a double issue! In case you're feeling withdrawal, though, take a look at these low-res preview pages of what's to come:


Screw You, Apple!

In my last post I spoke to soon!

Don't get me wrong, I love Apple and their amazing products, but I have a major complaint with the way their iOS browsers handle mp3s. If you're viewing Success! on your iPhone or iPad (which is the perfect sized screen for viewing a comic) and you click on the mp3, a Quicktime window opens so you can't follow along with the music! This is a major drag. One of the points of making a musical comic is so that people can listen to the music while they follow along with the comic. 

Believe me, dudes and dudesses, I've scoured the Apple support forums, languished on hold with Apple support and endured lengthy chats with Apple geniuses, only to butt up against the same unfortunate inevitability: "It's just the way it is. Apple can't and won't change it." Bummer.

Nevertheless, I will continue to sink money into Apple computer products because, well, they're gorgeous, and they're the best made devices out there for quenching my creative thirst, but, like that sinister little bitter giggle underneath the taste of that fruity cocktail, I'll have to take the good with the bad.

So, if you're reading this and you have any idea how I can work around Apple's design flaw, please leave a comment. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Gregory's entrance into the story. I had to draw him many times to get him right. At first he looked like a warped John Lennon, but as I drew him more and more, he started to have a round, frumpy, kind of enduring little Tin-Tin-shaped face. I like how he ended up. That jacket, though! Whew! I must learn to pair down the details. Do you know how many times I had to draw the strings in his hoody? Or the loops on his buttons? Gad. First thing I'm doing in the next scene is having him take his jacket off!

The talk show host, incidentally, is supposed to be Charlie Rose. Whenever I used to interview myself in the bathroom mirror (Come on, admit it. You've done it!), I always fantasized that I was on Charlie Rose. He always had the fanciest guests: authors, artists, politicians, intellectuals. Gregory longs to be famous enough to sit at Charlie's big round table. Like he says in the scene: "What artist doesn't?"

Okay. See you in a couple of months. 

Thank you, Apple

It has taken me so long to finish the Prologue because I became frustrated trying to draw with a drawing tablet. I attempted to go back to drawing on paper and scanning, but it just took too long so I gave up. Salvation came when, at long last, those hip folks at the Apple corporation made it possible for me to ditch the drawing tablet and draw directly onto the screen of my iPad Pro with the miraculous Apple Pencil. I hate for this to be a blatant advertisement, but I swear, after trying out many styluses I went into an Apple store to try out the Apple Pencil. I was completely blown away. It felt like just like drawing on paper.

Hooked, I sold tons of books and electronics (Bye, bye, iPad Mini. You will always be my first...) and saved up for a month to buy an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo. I'm an almost complete set of Tintin books and a JAMBOX mini speaker poorer, but it was all worth it, because now, production on the Success! comic has sped up considerably. I can draw at home, in the library, in coffee shops, anywhere! Thank you, Apple!

Now, my process for doing a page goes roughly like this: I format the music in Finale, then upload the file to DropBox. From my iPad, I import the music file directly into Procreate and start drawing. When all the drawing is done, I use Photoshop on my Mac to clean it up and add the speech balloons. If, however, the page features a lot of dialog without music, I do the panel layout and text in Photoshop first, then do the drawings. It sounds complicated, but using this method it only took me a few weeks to finish this scene. I can almost guarantee now that, weekend warrior though I am, I'll be able to crank out a scene a month. 

This scene introduces Nicholas, the wily, sleazy, crafty, social climber of the two brothers who form the focal point of Success!. I had a good time drawing this scene, although the party scenes really stretched my imagination. I had to come up with so many different kinds of people. To get those right, I looked to my heroes Phil Foglio (Myth Adventures) and Sergio Aragones (Groo).

The challenges in this scene included getting the look of the gallery consistent, drawing the bricks (Oh, so many bricks!), doing the backgrounds through the gallery windows, and getting Nicholas's facial expressions and body language right. 

See you next month!

The Making of Success

Welcome to the blog. I hope you're enjoying reading Success!  Since the early 90s I have experimented with ways to merge drawings and music. I drew cartoon after cartoon with music integrated into the drawings, but the geometric lines of the staves and the organic lines of the cartoons always seemed at odds.

I was stumped until the summer of 1999, when I came across a copy of Erik Satie's Sports et Divertissements: a collection of short hand-calligraphed piano pieces paired with fashionable illustrations. Satie's funny instructions to the piano player worked together with his descriptive music to make the little pictures come alive. This was the closest example I'd seen of music fused with drawings. 

The music and an illustration from  Sports et Divertissiments

The music and an illustration from Sports et Divertissiments

An early experiment from 2004.

An early experiment from 2004.

But I wanted to go further. I was searching for a way to visually show that the music accompanied the action in a comic, like a film reel with a printed soundtrack. I did some early experiments, but nothing stuck.

Then one afternoon in 2010 I was walking out of a comic store in Strasbourg, when a page from my future comic leapt out into my imagination. I imagined a piano/vocal score, but with comic panels in between the staves, as if they had their own staff line. The action in the comic panels could align horizontally with the musical events, fusing music and action. During the dialog scenes, the comic could just look like a regular comic.

I was afraid at first that this format might look inconsistent until I watched some classic movie musicals. It occurred to me that the comic format I dreamed up mirrors the structure of a movie musical, where  the camera pans out and floats around in long cuts during the musical numbers, then shrinks down again and cuts to the dialog like a regular film during the dialog scenes.

When I got home to my little apartment in Germany I made this sketch: 

My first sketch for the  Success!  comic: the opening five bars of We Did It

My first sketch for the Success! comic: the opening five bars of We Did It

I drew this sketch on pen and paper, with the staff lines cut and pasted in. I love the way this looks, but the lettering is unreadable, and it was time consuming. This sketch alone took me about 5 hours. Cutting and pasting the music for the entire score, which is 145 pages long, scanning the drawings, then cleaning them up and adding color in Photoshop would have taken me forever.

So I went to Media Markt and I bought a BAMBOO tablet to do the drawing. That made things much faster. I could import the music from graphics files taken directly from the piano/vocal score, cut and paste them in, and then draw the cartoons around them, all directly into Photoshop. The result is nice and clean. Now the whole comic will only take me about 10 years to finish, instead of 20.

I plan to publish the comic in monthly installments. The next installment is due this summer. Until then...

Reclinerland HQ, where the magic happens.

Reclinerland HQ, where the magic happens.