Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sketchin' at the Zoo

We're doing an animal anatomy class this quarter, so a whole slew of us went down to the Zoo yesterday. Allen came by before for coffee and Liz and he and I took off for the school, where we picked up Cara and David and made our way zoowards.

, Me, and Pat Bolin:

Here's a drawing:

Here's Doug, sharpening his pencil outside the Bongo enclosure:

More drawings!

Shawn Crystal's family was there, and his daughter Zoe, who at five is already quite an artist, drew a lot as well. Here's a pic of her, climbing around with a sketchpad.

Around noon, we met up to go over our drawings, while Shawn gave us feedback.

Directed to capture more action, I did these last drawings before we were rained out:

That's it for the Zoo drawings! I'm still pumping away on Crogan's Vengeance, and at the time of writing this have tightly thumbnailed out the next fifteen pages. I'm going for eighteen by the time I go to bed, and start on the pages themselves tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rain scene!

The first in a series of drawings that I may be using for something, though what exactly it's going to me I'm not sure), featuring smokers of the Marvel Universe. I'm going to color it with watercolor, but figured that I'd scan it in first. It's big - much bigger than I usually draw (the board size is letter), drawn with a big old brush, probably a size ten or twelve.

J. Jonah Jameson!

Other Marvel Smokers I've identified (much thanks to those who helped me compile this list) are (pipes) Mr. Fantastic, Bruce Banner, (cigarettes) Bullseye, Gambit, Black Widow, Mentallo, Dollar Bill, Banshee, Red Skull, Ben Urich, (cigars) Wolverine, the Thing, Grey Hulk, Nick Fury, Howard the Duck, Kingpin, Puck... and General Thunderbolt Ross smokes something, but I'm not sure if it's a cigar or a cigarette.

Well, I finished the storm scene! It's fourteen pages long, and was harder to draw than anything else. I have subsequently discovered that the tons of rain that I did with small pens and white ink are not reproducing at ALL. If I tweak the scan levels to show the white, the black rain disappears, and vice versa. It's the first time EVER that I'm doing anything but extremely clean line for comics, and it's biting me on the butt. I'm going to tweak the levels to try and make the regular line art as good as possible, and go in on the Cintiqs at school and REDO whatever rain effects are lost. Grrr!

An untweaked panel:

Here's a tweaked-as-well-as-I-can panel.

A page. To set it up, the topsail is still open and is pulling the ship over on its side.

Captain Cane:

I have 36 more pirate story pages before the book is done, and I have 35 days to do them. I was freaked out, but I sat down and figured out what has to be on each page (something I usually don't do, having an open-ended page count, more or less) and now I have a great starting point from which to delve in.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Help! What's this song from?

Still crankin' away on Crogan's, but I'm consistently irritated by a song that's been bouncing around my head for a while now.

Film scores tend to stick in my head something fierce, sometimes movies that I haven't seen since I was ten. Usually I'll figure it out - it may take me a few days, but I'll usually be able to place in within the context of a scene, and that'll do it - the opening song on the Miyazaki-scripted Aladdin movie was one tough one, the song from where the little boy is stretching robin williams' face in Hook is another - usually it takes a little while, but eventually it comes to me.

This song, though - months! Or at least a month. I cannot for the life of me place it, so I'm hoping that you can. I did a quick vocal version in garageband, in the hopes that someone will recognize it. It may sound a little more Baroque than I meant for it too, but this is the tune, as I remember it:

Mystery Song mp3

I think it's from when I was in middle school or earlier. I don't think it's Hook, or Forrest Gump, or Homeward Bound, or Home Alone, but I don't know. Could it be part of a score from a Disney animation? Arrrrrrrg! It's driving me crazy.

Any ideas, suggestions, assistance, etc, would be EXTREMELY welcomed.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mini-Comic Assembly Dinner!

2 things -

firstly, I'm past the 100 page mark on Crogan's. Considering it's taken me nearly a year to get to this point, you might think it ridiculous that I plan to complete the last forty pages in thirty-nine days... but then, nuts to you!

Secondly, Allen Spetnagel came over on Thursday and we spent the evening assembling mini-comics!

Allen's going to be premiering Haywire #2 at Fluke in a couple of weeks. It contains two stories done for anthologies: the story that he did for Elfworld #2, and his contribution to the Fletcher Hanks anthology.

Fluke is a mini-comics show in Athens, Georgia (about an hour and a half from Atlanta. It's great fun.

Liz and Allen spent most of the evening assembling minis. Liz put together a bunch of Shoot the Moons, of which I'd run out, as well as some more Goodbye Beards. We watched Frank and Ollie, a wonderful documentary about two of the most influential animators ever. I'd seen it, but it's worth multiple watchings.

Liz with Ol' Longtooth, our trusty big stapler. She got a right purty haircut recently. Liz, not ol' Longtooth.

In the amount of time that Allen made fifty and Liz made 100, I made one - ONE - finished copy of Giovanni Potatoe. Bear in mind it's four perfect-bound books with a slipcover, though Liz had already cut the pages for me, with lots of scoring and glueing and cutting involved. Anyone concerned with the $13 price tag, know that you're getting something whose assembly is well below minimum wage, discounting entirely the amount of time it took to draw it. After this run is through, I'm going to rethink the format. Whew!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm big in England

Here's a weird little doohickie: a picture of me in a Halloween costume from a few years ago was in the London Daily Mail last September(?!!!). I found it by pure luck, doing an image search for "flashman" because I was trying to find out who painted the novel covers. I have no idea how this picture got there, or where they found it - I have a very cropped version in my myspace pictures, but as far as I knew there wasn't a full one on the web. Huh. Anyway, here's me:

In terms of drawings, I liked how this line turned out. I don't have a whole lot of moment-to-moment transitions in the book - most of it is dialogue-driven - so this jumped out at me. The villain gets mad, then has a dastardly idea. Bwahahaha!

I sketched these two little Napoleonic fellas in class on Thursday. Thought I'd share.

Lastly, we finished our taxes! Heck, we may have already gotten our return - Liz keeps up with that stuff. Since she's a stickler for the rules, and since I sometimes use the computer (rarely) for non cartoonin' stuff, I only get to write-off my "studio," which is nestled in twixt the TV and the coat closet ... so here's the eight square feet that we wrote off of our apartment (I think that this comes out to being .00076% of our place? That can't be right. I'm terrible at math). Studio!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rocketeer Creator Passes

Dave Stevens, the cartoonist behind The Rocketeer, died day before yesterday of Leukemia. I never got to meet Dave, but I loved his creation.

I'm sorry it took this tragedy to rekindle interest in this great property, but hopefully this interest will help secure Dave's legacy by seeing these great comics finally collected for posterity.

I've a drawing of Cliff Secord in full regalia, and will mail it off to the first person who makes a $20 donation to Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation. Size is roughly 4.25" x 5.5", ink on bristol.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Jack Davis, Drew Weing, And Eleanor Davis - it's enough to make you feel like a scribblin' hack

First, a panel from Crogan's: the ship in rough weather.

On Thursday Allen Spetnagel, Hunter Clark, Doug Dabbs, and me packed comfortably into Allen Spetnagel's van...

and made our way to Athens, Georgia for a panel discussion on humorous illustration featuring, among other notables, EC legend Jack Davis.

Afterwards we had coffee with Drew Weing
and Eleanor Davis, and went back to their apartment for a little bit.

Seeing the book that they're working on is inspiring and very, very humbling - I really can't wait for it. It looks amazing.

I should be finished with my thumbnails and script for my contribution to David Yoder's Elephano book on Thursday, so that's a load off.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Atlanta Arts Forum

A couple of weeks ago we had the Atlanta Arts Forum, our version of the Savannah Comics Forum. We had a great batch of pros at the school – Eric Canete, , Yuko Shimizu, James Jean, and Andrew Robinson. They did a talk that was open to the public at the opening, answering questions and the like.

Yuko and James

Afterwards Shawn, Nolan Woodard, Pat Quinn, me, Justin Wagner, Doug, Eric, James, Andrew, Yuko, and a few of the illustration students and professors went to Ted’s Montana Grill, where I got AMAZING lemonade, Knob Creek, and my perennial order, Ted’s Kitchen Sink Burger. The Kitchen Sink Burger is Bison, Blue Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Fried Egg, Bacon, Cheese, and a nice mustard sauce. I love that burger, even though finishing it is invariably a torso cramp in waiting.

James gives his recipe for success

I took Yuko’s workshop on the business end of freelance illustration. Yuko is an amazing illustrator who teaches at SVA in New York. The workshop was INCREDIBLY helpful. I’m waiting until Crogan’s is finished (time management issues) before trying to get regular illustration work, but this has given me tons of ideas and inspiration for doing so, when the time comes.

One of the most interesting aspects to me was her approach to portfolios. The only time I ever put together a portfolio was to try and get into/get a fellowship for SCAD – I’ve never had one since. Usually I have a particular project in mind, and pitch that particular project, which has never necessitated a portfolio. Likewise, I’ve never really expended much effort to get work-for-hire jobs, hoping that word-of-mouth, reputation, and published work will be enough. Granted, my particular publishing goals do not, at this point, call for a portfolio, but man-oh-man, Yuko’s talk got me excited about putting one together.

For the first time, she explained a “science” behind the works in a portfolio and the order in which they should go – colors going into like colors, a work that you used to GET a particular job followed by a commissioned work whose tone was predicated on the “look” of the aforementioned promo piece, spreads, spots, tear sheets, etc... for the first time, I could see an almost narrative styling to the portfolio, and now I’m excited to make one. As I’ve not updated my gallery section in almost a year, I’ll likely do so with these principles in mind.

Andrew showing his thumbnails to Cara, Jackie, and Olu.

The other workshop I took was with Eric Canete. Eric recently did the art for the Iron-Man origin miniseries Enter the Mandarin, which is a model of storytelling. He also is a concept designer and storyboard artist for Cartoon Network’s BEN•10, with a number of other great cartoons under his belt.

Eric is one of those all-to-rare birds, a comic artist with a true understanding of storytelling and narrative principle, on an academic level. His workshop focused on shot placement more than anything else, showing mood and the relationship of the characters to each other by means of the relationship they share in the composition. We talked about Citizen Cane, Heat, using scale effectively, foreshadowing each subsequent panel, etc.

It’s always exciting to have interaction with someone who has such a wealth of understanding of the form, and the students got a lot out of it – it’s great to have pros tell the undergrads (and, I guess the grads) what they hear every day, because that does serve to legitimize it. That every shot, angle, panel break, etc needs to be a conscious decision, made with a good, story-based reason is something that comics needs more of, and I’m confident that a lot of the kids who turn pro from here will adhere to that logic.

Eric being far too forgiving while looking at the Crogan’s originals

I gave Eric and his girlfriend Naomi a ride to the airport, and he was kind enough to pass on all sorts of great stories about the Animation business and working on Iron-Man, and then headed back to Shawn’s where I drew pictures with Zoe, his oldest, who at five is showing serious artist chops, drawing awesome characters and her own interpretations of obscure Kirby characters, like Karcass. Then I drove Andrew to the airport.

That’s it!

Also, I shave my beard in stages again, and made poor Liz take a picture of me before I took the moustache off.