Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post of 2010: Let's Rock 2011

I figured for my last image of 2010, I'd leave with a sharp looking picture of Ace:

Oh how I dig playing card designs, and this image is a good way for me to sum up where 2010 ended and where 2011 will go. Here's to another year of cupcakes, comics and cocktails!

Speaking of New Years, something I'd started back in 2009 was to give myself a "motto" for the year that would push me towards achieving my goals.

2009's motto was "don't hold back", which for me meant that I needed to push myself with challenges. Do what needed to be done to get where I needed to be. Go the extra mile.

2010's motto was "fuck it". Crude as it is, it's helped me a lot. Much like 2009, part of this was me telling myself that when I was faced with a challenge, to say "fuck it" and do it, even if it hurt. If it meant long hours of drawing and redrawing, that's what it would take. If my idea seemed beyond my capabilities, then "fuck it" and do it anyway, whatever the results. This also has helped me with my writing. The stories I want to tell are the stories I want to tell, so "fuck it", I am who I am, my art is my art, whatever comes of it comes of it. It's time to stop hiding, or, well, holding back.

2011 is going to continue on this theme. 2011's motto is "don't look down". I'm sure like the previous mottoes this one will probably mean a lot more to me as the year progresses, but right now it's about not having time for regrets or to be embarrassed all the time. It's done, it's gone, it's out there. The only direction is forward, or more hopefully, up. My time at CCS is coming to an end and there's no looking back.

So here's to a year of looking up. May our past simply be the footfalls that have guided us towards the unknown precipice and not the dizzying, vertigo inducing distance that threatens to immobilize us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just Feeling Grateful: Comics and Censorship

So recently a censorship bill was passed in Tokyo and it was one of those moments that hits me when I realize how lucky I am to be able to make my art and express my beliefs openly and freely and how valuable that right really is. Over the next months I'll be following what happens with the law and its effects on the comic market in Japan.

While I generally try to distance my work from manga, I love and appreciate the works of artists all over the world and censorship is something that is relevant to anyone trying to express themselves through any medium in any language.

I've often battled with myself over content in my comics, but the fact that I even have that choice is a true blessing.

That said, I'm taking a break from the process posts and I'll get back to that next week. In the mean time, here's a quick cute drawing I did of Ace and Plato fighting ghosts complete with swear words and cheesy, somewhat confusing text:

Nothing beats freedom of speech, even if all it does is allow someone to have a lot of good, pointless fun. Hell, freedom of speech is awesome BECAUSE it allows me to make pointless posts like this.

And I realize that not everything is perfect here, but my quality of life is so high because I can have open discussions and make art. This is a gift that I value very highly and am happy to be able to reap the benefits of not just in my own art, but in that I can be exposed the thoughts and feelings, good bad whatever, of those around me, especially those of my fellow cartoonists. Thanks CCS for constantly reminding me of what I've got.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Process 2: Pencils

Sorry it's been taking me so long to get to updates, I've been busy thumbnailing all of Chapter Two, which I can NOT wait to start penciling. No, I'm not done with Chapter One, but I'm pretty close to being done with the pencils and I need to get moving. Starting Chapter Two will help.

Also, cupcakes?

I ordered the playing card pieces off of a baking site, but it was totally worth it.

Anyway, onto my penciling process. The real insanity, and yet streamlining, of my process has been how I now do pretty much ALL my rough pencils on separate pieces of paper and then light box them onto 11x17 artboard:

Or something like that. I'll also use Manga Studio's perspective rulers to make grids or check for perspective errors during this process. This can mean that I end up with like, three pieces of paper layered on top of each other to get something done but hey, it's worth it, right?

And this is generally what a finished page of pencils will look like, complete with a few notations on my part to note where an image will need to be moved, shrunk, enlarged, whatever when I get to the inking phase:

It's not magic, really. You don't always get everything right the first time and it's all about tweaking constantly till the final image is what you want. Penciling is by far the most labored part of my process. I hate to use that term, but I mean that in the sense that it's the part of the process that I spend the most time and thought in and it's where I try to capture my story before polishing it with inks and tones.

Other than that, the new Superboy comic is pretty good only two issues in. The covers are GORGEOUS and I'm not usually someone that cares too much about the cover so long as the inside is good, but the story is fun even if I'm not totally sold on the interior art. Too much detail with the coloring when I can see so much potential in the pencils and inks.

Which reminds me, I'm still reading the Flash and await Francis Manapul's return to the title. That man's art is inspiring.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Process 1: Development

So this past week I had to do a progress report for my classmates and the faculty here at CCS and part of that report had me breaking down and explaining my process. The next round of posts here on this blog will be me elaborating on what I said.

But first, a sketch of Trump:

So yeah, first things first, I write a script. The script that I’m working with is something I’ve been revising for about two years now, but even then it’s open to editing till final production. Once I talk to my advisor I make any necessary revisions and begin thumbnailing.  Here's a bit of what I get back from my advisor:

My advisor's feedback is great and we spend a lot of time fine-tuning the script trying to get it so that all the points I'm trying to get across are really clear. In fact, we're still working on some parts of Chapter One even though I'm starting to work on Chapter Two as well.

I do my thumbnails in two parts. First, I do a set of small thumbnails that is pretty much just panels. I do this so I have a sense of how the pages look altogether and so that the layouts themselves aren’t too repetitive.

After that, I do my final thumbs at something like, 1/2-1/3 scale on halves of 8.5x11 paper in spreads where I knock in the details and start to see how it’ll really look.

This is about the most readable my thumbs get. They're not always this clear, but I tend to make them fairly readable. I will photocopy enlarge certain thumbs and lightbox those for pencils sometimes.

Anyway, that's just the first steps to working out a page. I like having all my writing just about done before I start working out pages. I like getting things as polished as possible, which since we'll be covering pencils next time, I'll be able to elaborate on even more.

Woo, sorry for covering old ground for some of you, but I know I enjoy reading about other people's processes. I might upload photos of the food I've been cooking lately, like uhh, magical playing card inspired cupcakes? Aww yeah~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Know What's Awesome? Sleep is Awesome.

So yeah, I slept today. A lot. And oh man, it was so good.

And here's the final one of these little character images at least until I decide to draw Alex or something:

It's Trump, and she's looking about as pensive as always I imagine her. Good times.

We've got presentations coming up and I still need to figure out how to kinda start building a website but, uh, oh well! I'm about 80% penciled on Chapter One, I've got the go ahead to start Chapter Two, and this Thursday I'm going to eat so many damned potatoes my stomach won't know what happened.

Aww yeah, Hand Turkey Time!

The only thing missing is a re-watching of the classic holiday film ThanksKilling.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poster Cover Stuff

So one of the things I've been working on is the possible cover for the first chapter of City of Cards:

We're doing crits on Monday and I know there's some stuff I want to change or get feedback on. Oh, and my name won't be on the poster like that. I just slapped that on for now.

Other than that, been working on my little image of Candy:

Other than that, I'm about 80% penciled at this point. It's kinda weird coming up to the end but I can't wait to finish. Also, wow, I watched Sailor Moon again last night after I have no idea how many years. I haven't laughed my ass off so hard in so long. Oh man, wow.

Okay, back to work. Time for tea and whatsit.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Not a whole lot to post today because I haven't gotten a chance to scan anything and I'd rather focus on getting through these comic pages while I have a chance.

I haven't really read anything notable in the past week and I've been spending most of my time drawing/watching weird movies and documentaries to give me some sort of background distraction.

The guest lecturer this past week was John Brodowski and he was pretty awesome with a wicked sense of humour born out of B-Movie horror and heavy metal. I really dug his stuff because it takes pop culture notions that are already over the top and pushes it into parody by pretty much playing it straight. He also talked a bit about teaching comics which is something I just don't know if I feel a lot of drive for right now. Maybe if I were teaching adults? But it's something to consider.

So yeah, these next few weeks are going to be nuts because I'm working on a cover/poster design for my thesis presentation and I've just got a lot of work ahead of me in general. I'll try to update here if I get a chance. I like this once a week thing I've got going.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is it Time for the Whimsy Bell Yet?

Okay, so I have been being productive, but it's sometimes hard to express that through blog. I've been trying to desperately figure out how to do gray tones and my thesis advisor has been fantastic about supplying me with examples. I've also been looking at Vasilis Lolos's Last Call and that's been really inspirational.

So here's a sample of some more inks/tones from page 16 of City of Cards:

I haven't added the greys to the last panel yet and there are three more panels on this page that I've started. I tend to average around 7 panels per page, getting about as low as five and as high as 11-12. Why so many? Because it would mean it'd take 60 pages to get through the first chapter and there are only so many pages of beer and ramen a person can take in one sitting. Also, I've learned that my greys print really dark.

And for something different, a platypus:

Now that we're done with this, I offer two websites for your enjoyment:


Industrial Painter

Both require sound, both will blow your mind. One is a classic, one is a classic waiting to happen. Both will probably have nothing to do with the website I'm building, but I can dream.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ginger Nightmares and Horrible Color Choices

First off, Happy Halloween to all you folks out there. In somewhat related posting is the Ginger Monster from a dream I had a few nights back that I decided to sketch out:

I dunno, it was some kind of a demon possessed urban garden and the only thing I got a good look at was the ginger before I got out of there. It does look a lot like how I like to render my ghosts, which meant the dream was pretty cool, but this also makes me want to get back into monster design. I'm thinking I'll tackle kale next.

Also, since we're on dreams, the final page of my random dream comic. In lettuce related posting, the music I listened to while doing this piece was from Salad Fingers so there you go.

And finally, the complimentary drawing of Plato to the one I did of Ace with bonus fugly color scheme.

Seriously, it's like all the worst parts of a 70s living room decided to throw themselves at him to see what would stick. I know he's supposed to have terrible, terrible taste in outfits but I'm just eternally grateful that City of Cards is being done in gray scale so I don't have to look at that orange more than I have to. No offense to orange. Some of my favorite snacks are orange.

Next time will be Candy. She has good taste in color, thankfully.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dream 3 and I My Attempt at Something Small and Cute

The third page of the dream comic. At least, I suppose if anything, this kind of drawing may prepare me for the ghost parts of City of Cards. I'd like them to have an intense feel to them that's different from the rest of the story.

As far as the main comic? I'm pretty much halfway done with the pencils for Chapter One right now and the feeling is almost overwhelming. It's seeing something actualized and I feel like if I slow down it'll sink in and really hit me that I'm actually doing this. I want the hurdle of the first chapter done as soon as possible because once I get to Chapter Two then I can really say I've begun.

Once I get a little further in that, I'll post some more. Till then, here's a quick color picture of Ace I drew that I'll probably use as a profile picture for my thesis presentation or, I dunno, a website? Sure, why not.

He pretty much only wears black and white so doing stuff with him in color is kinda weird since I'm just not used to thinking in color. I should do more of that though. Also, this is about as close as I can get to drawing something "chibi". I kinda fail at that and it doesn't really fit with the kind of art I like to do. This to me is my visual compromise.

I have Plato and Candy drawn as well so I'll get to coloring those when I get the chance. Halloween this year may not be anything exciting but I kinda want to see Paranormal Activity 2 since I liked the first one. I like a good horror film that relies a little less on ripping people apart and a little more on just making the audience feel really unsettled.

Other than that, the weather can stay as nice as it was today for the rest of the year for all I'm concerned. 70s with a slight breeze and gorgeous leaves? Uh, yeah, sounds perfect to me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bigfoot Spotted in Urban Area

So while reworking some pages, I drew this. In fact, this was almost a panel in my comic, but Canto helped me figure out a better way of approaching that panel. Still, this was worth saving.

Followed by my next dream comic page:

Ugh, what a crazy, tiring, disease infested week. But still, stuff keeps moving along.

I got and finished reading Fogtown as well this week. It's definitely a book that's much better when you don't know the secrets. I mean, it's a noir crime story with a twist, that pretty much shouts "Don't spoil the mystery!". But, even though I had been spoiled I still really enjoyed it. It was dark, violent, and suspenseful and had everything you'd want out of this genre. Good read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CoC Chapter 1 Progress Report and Peep Show

Whoa, updating in a timely manner? It's happening!

For the next few weeks I'll post the strangeness that is my four page dream comic. I gave myself a couple of criteria in order to loosen up my art, practice working with a tablet, get used to large area of blacks, and to get something done FAST. All this doesn't make for oh wow beautifully perfect art, but it is a good challenge for me.

So yeah, each panel I set a loop of a moody song that lasts about ten minutes and had to finish each panel by the end of that song straight in digital inks. Some ran a tiny bit over, several I didn't even get to the limit, so it evened out.

I'm also gonna give a bump to the pinup calender I did a piece in because all the girls involved are amazing and deserve promotion. This is the piece I did:

We all drew names out of a hat and I got to draw the lovely Mia for the month of September. Yes, that is a crab smoking a cigarette. Lena Chandhok did a fantastic job with the cover and layout work and she was co-editor with Nomi Kane. Here's a list of all the contributors aside from myself, note that Betsey who drew me does not have a website yet: Lena Chandhok, Nomi Kane, Betsey Swardlick, Laura Terry, Holly Foltz, Melanie Gillman, Jen Vaughn, Bailey Sharp, Amelia Onorato, Beth Hetland, Colleen Frakes

Next, I've finished the thumbnails for the rest of chapter one of City of Cards and have started doing a little bit of penciling as well. I've gotten some good critiques so I'm in the process of reworking some of my pages, but also trying to keep moving forward. I've gotta say its an interesting experience especially since the parts I'm working on now are all pages centered around Ace and Plato. I've really enjoyed watching their personalities take shape and am kinda amazed at how much they've grown on me.

Also, a quick shout out to my buddy Canto for getting me reference pictures of him digging through a dumpster. Sure, he was going to do it anyway, but I live for accuracy. Seriously, the best friends in the world are the ones that'll go dumpster diving for art's sake.

Aaron Renier spoke here at CCS recently which gave me some surprising insight into how to approach my work. I found the way he feels stories gestate with him resonated a lot with me. I guess it's not always such a bad thing to forget stuff because if it doesn't stick with you then it probably doesn't matter. I think I need to be better about this approach and my massive pile of STUFF.

Speaking of stuff, I also picked up the new Cyanide and Happiness book and it's fantastic. The games at the back of the book are hilarious and I'm amazed at how funny I find some of these strips even after having read them multiple times. So yeah, if you're a fan of those guys, pick up their book. It's not for everyone, but it's my kind of humor.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And Now for the Rest of the Show

Deadline over! But really, not really. In all truth the sixteen page deadline was a kick in the butt with a steel-toed-boot made of a false sense of accomplishment. Oh yeah, I'm totally happy to have dug in my heels and gotten down to work but this really is only the beginning. I got twelve pages of City of Cards almost completely done for that deadline so that did get me going, and I'll probably post the strangeness that is my dream comic up here as well that made up the other four pages.

From now on, it's all me and my amazing thesis advisor setting the pace and getting this work done. I'm ready, I'm excited, and there'll be a lot more to show in the next few months and beyond. I have plans. Oh yes, I have plans. First, some more from the pages of City of Cards I've been working on including the full version of page eight and some panels from the beginning of chapter 2 with Alex:

And now, sketch dump time. This is probably the best sketch of Candy I have drawn so far:

I have also realized that Plato will never, ever learn to shut up:

And I've been continuing with my brush pen environment sketches because they are really very relaxing:

Other than that, things have been awesome. John Higgins, the colorist on Watchmen and The Killing Joke, gave an impromptu talk this past Tuesday and even if I don't have a lot of free time I'm having an amazing time just hanging out with people in the studio.

Hopefully soon I'll figure out a proper update schedule. Till then I'll just try to keep up this once about a weekish thing I've got going.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ink and Tone Test

So I'm in the process of figuring out a new process of inking and toning and I thought I'd toss up some panels to see how they work on the web. I'm pretty darn happy with the results and how this comic is going in general. I love the polish that I get with digital tones and inks.

First, two panels of Plato from page 8 of City of Cards:

Next, a panel of Lily from page 11:

So far, not looking too bad. There's still a bit of a learning curve but again, the results are worth the effort. I also need to redo my model sheets so I'll see about getting those done in the next couple of weeks.

Also, I've finally been able to get some much needed sleep. Deadlines aside, thesis is rocking. Can't think of too much else except Ugly Americans starts again tomorrow and I can't wait to watch that.

So, uh, woo bye for now!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hah, What?

So I couldn't really come up with much for an update this week, but I wanted to post something so here's a panel of Plato I inked for the sixteen pages I'm working on due the 11th.

On the plus side this means I'm getting a lot of work done and soon there will be actual significant updatage?

Ah yeah that's what that means.

Also, year two thesis is blowing my mind. Who would have ever thought I'd get to work on something I love so much.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CoC Sketches and Some Reccomendations

I'm getting to close to my personal deadline on my pencils for the twelve pages of City of Cards I've been working on. It's daunting, starting this project, but seeing the pages start to take shape has been motivating. I'm still no master draftsman but I really love seeing my world and these characters take shape.

Here's hoping the story actually works. *laughs*

I thought it would be a good idea to do a couple more ink tests with some doodles from class, partly because I wanted to practice working with skin-tone and with rendering the ghosts.

But yeah, I'll probably print these to see how they look. Finding the right tone for skin is tricky, but I'm definitely feeling like I'm not losing much with switching to digital. My ghosts are still looking just about how I like them even if I'm still not totally used to how crazy clean digital inking looks. I never thought I'd like it as much as I do.

Next a sketch of Alex I did during guest lecture today that I did a little tweaking on later. I like it enough that I may ink/color it. We'll see, though, because right now I have little time to spend other than completing pages.

My recommendations:

Book: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel because of its wonderful blend of science fiction and philosophy as well as amazing characterization. I don't want to spoil any of the story because so much of this work's strength lies in the slow and earned discovery of truths.

Music: Throwing Muses is wonderfully eerie electronic folk with poetic lyrics and available to listen to right here on the internet. Give it a go and enjoy some nice music.

Video Games: Batman the Brave and the Bold Videogame is honestly some of the most fun I've had playing a video game in a long time. I honestly don't have a lot of time for games anymore but I'm really glad I picked this up because if you're a fan of the show, it really is like playing the show. It's short, definitely, but great with a friend and we can all use a little silly fun now and again. So yes, I'm actually saying to go play this game.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Progress Report!

So, I haven't had a lot to post up here lately, but that's partly because I've been busy penciling my pages for October and working on another side project I'll be posting up here later.

So, what do I have to share today? First here's a snapshot I took on Friday of the ten out of twelve pages I'd started at that point:

Next, since I don't have any more pencils scanned right now I figured I'd share something a little different, it's the sketches from today's class exercise where we were given three words and told to work out a story plot in ten panels. I actually really enjoyed this process and I'll be using what I did here later:

Definitely a lesson in concise storytelling. If you can't read the final text, it says "In the end I returned home, but my heart, my hope, and who I was remained in the depths."

So yeah, part of the exercise was to take a twist on a genre and I got True Love, Adventure, and The Underworld so there's only so much Orpheus I could stick in there. Actually, when I go back to reworking one of my stories this is a pretty good outline for where I want to go. Also, I really like drawing strange demon things.

Anyway, update! And now I can get a little sleep.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CCS Year Two: Thesis

So, it's finally beginning. We've got 16 pages due on October 11th so my plan is to pick eight pages from the first chapter of City of Cards, four from the second, and the last four will be from a dream assignment we also have.

I'm going to try to get back to some kind of regular updating schedule, maybe twice a week so I can put up progress work from City of Cards, sketches, and other material. Not too much to put up today, but I figured I'd start with a couple of sketches done in class and at the Glory Days event and some pencils from the first chapter of City of Cards.

A sketch of the final design for Lily, Rick's secretary:

A quick sketch of Ace chilling done in class:

Some pencils for page 8 of City of Cards:

I'm ridiculously happy to finally be starting this project. It's a bit overwhelming at times, but it's about time I just went ahead and got started even if I'm not 100% at the level I wish I was at. But hey, it's a learning process, right? It can only get better from here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ink Test

Classes officially started up this week so that and finishing up a project with some of my classmates has kept me a bit busy. I don't really have a lot scanned up at this point but I figured I'd post a test of a new inking/toning method I've been working on.

Yeah, I posted the rough sketch of this picture earlier but I inked this entirely in Manga Studio EX to see if that's how I want to proceed with my comics. Frankly, I really enjoy this process so who knows, this could be the way things go from now on. The program has a lot of options, including dry brush, and the G-Nib function is sweet.

So, well, starting now I'm back to working on City of Cards. I should have some actual completed work to show in the next month or so. Crazy time!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Doin' Those Things

Okay, I'm back in the WRJ and figured I should post SOMETHING. I saw Scott Pilgrim a few nights ago and thought it was cute and fun and extremely well composed/edited. If you want to have a good time, it's got a solid cast and some great music.

Anyway, not been feeling too great today and I've got a lot of commitments/deadlines coming up let's see what I can do here.

First, another random pen environmental sketch:

I need to sit down and design the outside logo for The Cave for real. On the plus side, it doesn't have to be pretty/fancy because The Cave is kinda a dump. A well meaning dump, though.

And because I've actually started inking the comic, because I am damn determined to finish this thing, here's the rough sketch for the cover to OFHH:

Alright, and a quick rundown of comic threes:

RASL because I enjoy Tesla science mixed with philosophy in a gritty, immersing drama that is just beginning to unravel itself.

MW because Osamu Tezuka was a man ahead of his time with amazing range that keeps you on the edge of your seat as he explores the depths of morality and the levels people are willing to push their own sense of value.

Jerry Ordway, Pete Kraus, and Mike Manley's run on The Power of Shazam because it is fun, and one of the best versions of Captain Marvel's story I've read. Start with the graphic novel, but if so inclined I recommend picking up the back issues. They're pretty cheap and your local comic store will thank you for taking them off the shelves.

And now I need to get back to work but much love to you all.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Work in Progress and Distractions

You know, it's felt like a long time since I've sat down and done a real drawing of Ace since I've had to put finishing my comic till I get back to WRJ. So, to make up for that I did this last night:

I've also been trying to get ready for thesis by doing layouts and other concept sketches since I'm pretty much just set up for sketches right now:

That's the first of my reference sheets for The Cave and I need to do a few more before I start making, hopefully, SketchUp! models. I want to have at least the few locations I know I'll be referencing multiple times laid out as best I can. Sorry for the random content but that's kinda how summer has been.

Speaking of random content, my brother is visiting and we're continuing this massive sort out of STUFF from our childhoods. Going through old puzzles, he told me to draw these two puzzles before he'd let me throw them out. I took my own liberties:

Yes, I know Shark Week is over, and the guys in the bottom picture are from something called Rock Lords which neither my brother nor I remember, but whatever. It makes throwing out stuff fun.