Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Off to San Diego (No Harry Potter Spoilers)!!!

First off, here's a pinup I did for Sea Monsters and Samurai, Chad Thomas's incredibly awesome new project. While there is not a giant anchor-swinging alligator gar in the book (as far as I know), Chad's very permissive when it comes to what he let me do with this character for this one. Keep your eyes out for this one, it's premiering at Wizard World in Chicago!

Well, I'm back in Atlanta and everything is back to normal... for the next twenty hours or so, and then I'm off to San Diego!

The workshop went extremely well. The first day everything was sort of slow, and the kids didn't seem all that responsive, and I thought "Oh, no!" The next couple of days were horrible, stressing out while trying to develop riveting lesson plans, and I remembered why teaching was so hard - it wasn't the teaching part of it, it was the preparation! I got extremely concerned, as I'm really banking on teaching comics when I get my MFA, and all of the sudden the horrible truth of it hit me again (I have an affliction where I remember everything, even horrible things, fondly).

Luckily, though, I got my feet and by the end of the first week we were soaring. By the end of the program I was positive that I want to teach comics for a long, long time.

Dean Trippe and Chad Thomas DID come down a week ago for the class. They showed the kids pages that they'd done and drawings, gave 'em a lot of good info. I was really, REALLY impressed with how they never talked down to the kids, they treated them like peers. Watching Dean talk about the business end of negotiating the price of commissions with ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif nine year old is something you really don't want to miss.

We had dinner at my parent's house on the deck - grilled Salmon and a really good salad and all sorts of other goodies. We got to watch the raccoons come up and chow a few feet away, which was fun, and in chatting we had a really, REALLY cool idea for an anthology. It's relatively secret at the moment, but I'm going to start sowing the seeds at San Diego - this is going to be THE anthology of '08.

Oh! And today was Liz's and my three-year anniversary! Wooo! We had a wonderful day, and she got me The Art of Bone, which I've been yearning for ever since I heard it was going to be coming out!

The last couple of weeks have been very Harry Potterish. Liz and I went with my high-school friend group to see Order of the Phoenix, which was a lot of fun, even though I missed significant portions from being ill and having to duck out of the theater. The book was my least-favorite, the hardest to read. You know what I said about only remembering things fondly? Well, the character of Delores Umbridge, an unfair and bureaucratic teacher, brings all of the bad parts of childhood back to me in a flood. Everything that was horrible about childhood is suddenly at the forefront of my thoughts, and it's practically crippling when I think about it too much. I'm a really happy guy, and that character just strips everything out of me. If you're familiar with the books, then you'll know the Dementors: creatures that suck all happiness and hope from whomever they come in contact with. Umbridge does that to me whenever I read about her/watch her on the screen. The actress playing her was great, though, and the movie was good - I was never a fan of the ending of the book, and thought that the movie did a better job flushing it out for me.

I finished it, and won't say anything about it except that it was very good.

I was looking at Lucy Knisley's website (she's one of those cartoonists that both inspires you and makes you sick with how good she is), and realized that I need a LOT MORE stuff on mine. So when I get back I'm gonna overhaul, and give each section some more stuff. I may even be able to put a preview of my big book up, when my publisher makes the book announcement this week.

One of the things that I think I might do is a Harry Potter gallery in the illustration section. I was trying to think what to do with these, and I finally decided that a set of playing cards, as a self-promo thing, might be fun, so I'm gonna crank out 54 of these babies. The only hard part is narrowing the characters down to 54!

Here are three:

I'm getting into San Diego on Wednesday. If you want to find me, I'll be back and forth between the Oni table and the SCAD table, where I'll be selling minis and original art and doing sketches/taking commissions. Keep an eye out!

On another note, this will be the fifth or sixth state where I'll have hung out with Dean in five months. We're keeping score.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Very First Mini!

I've been spending the last week and my parent's house while I'm teaching this workshop. It's been fun. The house is SO different from when I lived here - gardening and landscaping and remodeling and the like. I never really liked this house as a teen, but now it's really nice.

One of the perks of overdevelopment is that it encroaches on the natural habitat of the local wildlife. Why is this a perk? Because it pushes all of the animals into my parent's backyard, which is all woods. Ever since Boomer (my Golden Retriever) passed awaya few months back, my parents have been leaving out his old dog food out for some raccoons. About seven come out onto their deck every night to chow down, including some babies. They're fine with you watching them from a few feet away if you're in the house looking out through the big window, and will come up if you're already sitting outside, but will run if you walk towards them. They're really cute - I drew a couple.

We also saw a group of turkeys yesterday that walked right up to the deck - two adults and twelve or thirteen babies. Then they all ran off, and it looked like the scene in Jurassic Park with the herd of struthiomimuses, or whatever the ostrich-looking dinosaurs were.

Also, me and mom went through the family chest, which contained a few hitherto-undiscovered gems, among which were my (probably) first mini comic and perhaps the earliest existing Chris Schweizer pirate drawing.

The pirate drawing is from early 1985, which puts me at four years old.

And this comic I remember drawing. This is from when I was five years old, and I made it in Kindergarten. I think that it was bound BEFORE I drew it, and probably each kid got a little book of paper in which to tell a narrative, but I don't think that it's less of a minicomic just because I didn't staple it myself.

Notice the extra "m" on his costume for "man."

As you can see, a man on his way to work (you can tell he's on the way to work because of his hat and briefcase) turns into a monster, for no apparent reason. Notice that the sun is shining. Mighty Man is flying around overhead. Apparently I chose to make him a stick-figure for the purposes of scale.

Mighty Man swoops past the monster, which is knocking over a telephone pole.

The monster's tail smashes someone's house as he breathes fire. Mighty Man still eludes his grasp.

Apparently a hill has formed, because the monster, having finally caught Mighty Man, is standing on one. Little firemen rush to the aid of a person who is preparing to leap from a burning building. Notice that the lone cloud has begun to darken ominously.

The monster continues to hold Mighty Man as the cloud moves in front of the sun. People are still atop the burning building, apparently unassisted by the fireman, who seem to have left.

I'm not sure if Mighty Man is being knocked from the monster's hand by the force of the blast, or, if free, is simply flying away, but cloud has released a lightning bolt which strikes the monster. I think that he's shrinking as a result of this zapping, but this panel was probably drawn as class was coming to a close, and so it's a little less detailed that the previous page depicting such a transformation. The occupants of the burning building are still pleading for assistance.

The monster, changed back into a man, continues on to work. I'm not sure if Mighty Man is shrugging here or what. It's raining!

Anyway, that's it! My first mini. Woooo!

I also just finished a drawing that I'm RIDICULOUSLY happy with (full color, no less), but have to keep it secret for another week and a half - gotta wait for an announcement in San Diego. And I finally got a font I've been drooling over for more than three years: "Spills"!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"I thought this was supposed to be a puff piece."

Big week! Sorry I haven't updated more often, I've been so swamped.

I've finished the first week of a two-week workshop that I'm teaching in my old hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The newspaper came by and talked to us, but I assumed that it would be burried in the "living" section. Imagine my surprise when my mom (I'm staying at my parents' house while I'm here) showed me this - front page!

It paraphrases me a little to the point where it sounds like I'm very lackadaisical about the class, which is not true, but it was a really cool article and a neat experience. The reporter did some of our drawing exercises with us.

How cool is that, huh?

The class is going really well. At first I was nervous because there's a BIG age range, 8-16. With that comes a big skill range. The kids didn't know each other, weren't socializing - I was SO stressed at the end of the first day. But after seeing what they could do? These kids are AMAZING. Some of them (one in particular) EASILY rival some of the intro students at SCAD, and with proper teaching and encouragement could really be something in this field. Oh, and the talk to each other now.

So far we've gone from the relatively simple stuff like panel direction through decidedly more advanced stuff like line weight and line quality, the use of the three planes in panel composition, making environments unique, etc, and they're catching on so well. It's really amazing - I guess they wouldn't have signed up for the class without a predisposition towards making comics, but the level that these kids are on just astounds me for their age.

We've done a LOT of pages - self-done comics (a couple of the kids are real powerhouses, cranking out five pages a day or more), jam comics, plot-builder exercise comics, etc. Dozens now, and I'm spending almost all of my time scanning them in so that we can make minis. -Ugh- I love it, it's just taking an extra three or four hours a day.

Tuesday should be a big day - Nashville cartoonist Chad Thomas (whose stuff is just constantly amazing me and making me feel like my own has so far to go) is going to be coming in to speak with/show his stuff to the class, and I think that they'll really dig it. And he may not be coming alone - there's a chance that Dean Trippe, everybody's favorite chronicler of the adventures of tween superhero Butterfly may come, too. It's gonna be a blast for the kids (and me, of course). We're going to hit Cancun's, my favorite Mexican dive from high school.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, I drew Gambit from the X-Men. He's supposed to be Cajun, so I hate that he always looks like a matinee idol. I never met a Cajun that didn't look a little bit scrinchy. Nice, sure, but scrinchy nonetheless.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Kentucky, Here We Come!

Well, I'm getting my stuff together today to head up to Kentucky for the Making Comics workshop. I'm excited - there are 11 students, ranging from 3rd graders through 10th graders. I'd be concerned that the big spectrum of age would be a hindrance, but I think that it's a small enough class that we should be able to keep everyone interested and challenged. I'm making handouts drawing attention to some of the more important aspects of comics-making: balloon placement, simplified emotions, reading direction, etc - I may put them together as a mini when it's all over with. Who knows? Maybe I'll have it at San Diego, or I may try to expand it into something longer.

Dusty at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find has offered me a place in Indie Island at Heroes Con next year, which I'm really excited about - I had a great time at Heroes, and am looking forward to having another go at it. To give him a promo image, I decided to color a panel from Crogan's Vengeance, so here it is.

I also finished that Usagi Yojimbo drawing a few days back. Here's a glimpse of it:

I've packed up my computer, printers, scanner, guitar, some fencing equipment, and lots of books and supplies, and Liz is going to, so we'll have to see if we can fit into the car. Can't wait to see all the Kentucky and Tennessee people!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Playing Two Instruments and Drawing Harry Potter

I'm not afraid of much -- dying in a plane crash, trying to walk on stilts while having my arms bound by my sides, etc -- but I AM scared of vacuum cleaners when other people are using them. It's my one crazy and irrational thing, and it's been so since I was a kid. So while Liz was vacuuming today, I consoled myself by practicing on my tiny accordion. While I was doing so, I realized that I could play a number of the parts of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major (provided that I played it in the key of C). But I really wanted it to sound more full, so after a good ten minutes of maneuvering I successfully figured out how to play both the accordion and the guitar, although neither one particularly well.

I can squeak out the full song, though, but it sounds pretty rough. Maybe with work I can have a talent show talent besides the old standbys of the "chalk talk" and turning my legs backwards.

I've spent my week putting together promotional imagery for the San Diego show for the book I'm working on. Still can't post them here, but fifteen seconds after the announcement they'll be all over this blog - I'm very proud of how they've turned out. But I've also been thinking about putting together some prints for the Comic Con, and have been thinking of what might be fun. One thing that sprang to mind was Harry Potter. I drew this picture of Remis Lupin...

...and it got me thinking that it might be fun to do some sort of thematic portrait page, and with the Order of the Phoenix movie coming out what could be better than to do a big picture of the various members of said Order? Here are the pencils, sans Lupin:

I may repencil Mrs. Weasley and Tonks, as (a) I stink when it comes to drawing females, and (b) I made them a little too big. Overall, I'm going for a sort of halfway between the books and the movies, which isn't hard as the movies did excellent casting and design work.

I'm also wanting to do a good Usagi Yojimbo sketch to pass on to Stan Sakai at some point while I'm down there. Usagi is probably the best floppy comic book being made today. Go to your comic store and pick one up - you'll enjoy it, there's no question. Here's a thumbnail, with Usagi fighting some 17th century pirates (had to tie it in to my stuff somehow).

Oh! In my last post I had a sketch of Dean Trippe taking a picture of me upon which he was going to draw his character Butterfly - here's that picture, from his now-famous MOCCA report.