Monday, October 27, 2008

My dad is not a photographer

I'll tell the story before I show the picture, because the thousand words the photo might say don't do the story justice. Come to think of it, neither will my writing skills. Ah, well. Onward!

As I've mentioned, I headed down to MA to deliver the itty and bitty bike to my niece Sadiebug. It was a five-hour drive my body fueled by 'healthy' chips, dark chocolate and black coffee and my brain occupied by alternately listening to a biography of the Buddha and Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

Sadiebug was there when I arrived, but it was too late for bike showing, so I pre-viewed it to my sister and she was thrilled. Niece and I contented ourselves with other playing. The next day (Saturday) Sadiebug and Sis arrived and we talked about how best to present it. I got my bike and helmet out of the car as sort of bait and then Sadiebug was brought out. She spied my bike right away and ran towards it with a grin crying "bike-le! bike-le" (Don't you love two-year-old lingo?). "Wait, Sadiebug! Look!" My mom called and we brought out the Strider.

Man. If my bike was cool, this was even better. She ran right up to it and was too stunned to even throw a leg over, so we helped her over the bike. Extra-Cute Helmet was installed and then, with mom behind Sadiebug, I demonstrated on my bike what to do. She picked it up pretty quick and then promptly fell over. This scared her a bit and for a moment she had a 'I don't like that thing at all!" look on her face (that scared the bejezus out of me!).

But, all was not lost. Soon she was back on, trucking next door with us to show the neighbor's boy. Then we all stood around their driveway, with Sadiebug and Neighbor Boy alternately riding the Strider (man, did he like that thing. So did his dad and mom, so there might be a Strider-shaped box under the tree...).

Eventually, it started to sprinkle and we went inside and had lunch (Free Food, the other perk of visiting the folks!). Then it was time for Sadiebug's nap. After she was asleep, I hobnobbed with the family and then decided to hit the road. If Sadiebug were awake when I left, there might be A Scene (nothing is so conflicting as seeing a child very sad that she you're leaving).

The update I got when I got home was that when Sadiebug was getting ready to leave, she HAD to wear her helmet and wore it all the way home. Score one for the Weird Uncle! Yay, me!

So, here's the picture. I SWEAR that she was smiling a gigantic grin most of the time. This is us going inside (mom helping), so she was a bit tired.

Also, I've finally updated The List. It's a list of phrases I've heard, mis-heard or, in some cases dreamed. It could alternately be called the Band Name List.

Listening to while posting: "Perfect Crime" by The Decemberists

Sunday, October 26, 2008

road trip

I was down in Mass. at my folks house delivering the Strider bike to my niece (more on that when my dad sends me photos). In an obscure corner of the house, while searching for something to read, I found a battered and slightly water-damaged copy of the New Mutants Demon Bear Saga graphic novel. I don't remember buying it, but it must have been me. Bill Sienkiewcz's (how do you pronounce that?!) art is still groundbreaking and amazing, though the 'better' printing of the gn do it no favors. His work, with its use of shadows and slashes of black ink work very well on newsprint; it doesn't work well on glossy paper. The colors are too vibrant and don't allow the black and the colors to work as a cohesive whole. The re-printing of his covers is still amazing and I'd love to have a gicles-printed version of nearly any one of his covers.

One funny thing I noticed. The day before I left for MA, Sweet Enemy and I were talking about something that seems to have cropped up in a few of my recent comic works. I'm not sure if it's a stylistic thing (like Luc Besson's habit of starting off his films with the camera flying over water), a schtick, or a coincidence? What is funny, is the Demon Bear Saga included a quite similar image. Can you spot the similarities and what are your thoughts on the style/schtick/coincidence question?

Listening to while posting: Nothing. I got to sleep now, it's 0032 EST and I'm old.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Twenty Four

It is DONE!

The story if you want to hear it. If you do, you might want to read the comic first as Here Be Spoylers:

With the bitter taste of an unfinished story lingering in my mind and a year of experience under my belt, I figured that the best bet was to come up with a story first. I thought and thought and then sketched a quick robot:


Then I was suddenly, for some odd reason, reminded of a drawing by the inestimable Jake Parker. When I first saw this rabbit farmer and the very forbidding robot, I thought of a story I heard of farmers using military kettenkraftrads for farm tractors after the war. How cool would it be if a military robot was re-purposed as a farm implement?

I wanted to do something with it but didn't because it's Jake's baby. But, given that it was now a half-hour into the challenge and I had no idea (and that there was no money involved in this), I went ahead and got started. I spent the next half-hour thumbnailng all twenty-four pages, then got started. I thought about choosing the most difficult looking pages to do first, but ended up just doing them numerically. It ended up not mattering; ALL pages became difficult pages in the end.

The hardest part was not being able to do production design. I was making up clothing, vehicles and accessories on the fly. Some things worked, some things not so much. The other hard part was not being able to really take time with difficult poses, and it shows.

The story has some holes, and the dialog is a bit hokey, but what do you want for a half-hour's writing. The art degenerates as the story goes due to my body and mind degenerating as the night/day wore on.
Did I have fun? Well, maybe. Like a race, it's hard to tell. Will I do it next year? Definitely. Next year I'll put a timestamp on each page. Just for curiosity's sake.

So, here's "Redemption".

listening to while posting: "Secret Agent Man" by Johnny Rivers

Monday, October 20, 2008

not here yet

The 24 Hour Comics Day comic is still at the store. Sweet Enemy was off today, so there it languishes. It should be back tomorrow and, in between freelance stuff that has piled up, I'll scan it. To placate you, here's the page that started it all that night. I sat there in the store sketching randomly to get the juices flowing and it was this guy who reminded me of something I saw a couple of weeks ago. I'll share the whole story of my 'thought' process when I post the comic.

Also saw Iron Man on Saturday night. It was good. Very nicely comic-booky (Sweet Enemy called the Good Version vs Bad Version as soon as she saw Stane). It was, to me, not as good as Ed Norton's Hulk. The production design was fabulous (especially the updating of the original suit), but it was lacking. The character of Tony Stark was perfectly developed (and wonderfully acted), but everything else seemed flat. Pepper Potts was slightly three-dimensional, but Obediah Stane was barely even a sketch of a character. His betrayal was no surprise and his death provoked no feelings whatsoever. Rhodey was a wasted character. It felt like a walk-on on a weekly TV show: see, it's my best friend who, for some unknown reason, hasn't been here, ever.

I am also a nitpicker (as I was with The Hulk), so here's some nitpicks:

-- MAN! Is Tony Stark's chest cavity ever deep! I'm no doctor, so maybe most people's are, but dang it seemed very, very deep! Even so, how do his damned pectoral muscles work with a hole larger in diameter than his sternum is wide?

-- The magnet made sense when it was car-battery powered and sitting on his chest bolted to his sternum, but why would it have to go so damned deep? And what was that wire plugged into (and how did Stane get the right fittings for his monstrosity, anyway?)

-- The magnet anyway. Did the comic ever explain why the pieces could never be removed once he was out of the third world?

-- The Iron Man suit is so heavy that it will drop through two reinforced concrete floors from a drop of less than a meter? What's it made out of, neutron star material? It was a funny scene, though.

-- What news service got that totally non-shaky video footage and the crystal-clear photos of the warlord and his new toy? From what we've seen on the news, Taliban insurgents don't really like reporters.

Interesting points:

-- Tony was very un-Batman-like; he killed without emotion. Terry Pratchett once said that if your life is in someone's hands, you should pray it's an evil man. An evil man will talk you to death, a good man will kill you without a word. Hmmm.

-- Tony's joy at the first suit test flight was really nice. No real person would be cool and collected at that moment.

Now, onto The Dark Knight!

Listening to while posting. Nothing. Hey! I should remedy that. Ah, it's 'Moonage Daydream' by David Bowie (duh)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It is done.

Well, it was done earlier.

Twenty-Four Hour Comics Day 2008 is over. I feel spent. Rather like getting done with a big race: I'm tired and loopy and not sure if I actually had fun. We started with nine, but only four of us managed to stay to the end. We all got a bit loopy, but one of us got so damned annoying, what with the not actually stopping the idiotic stream-of-consciousness babble up except to take a breath, that most of us would have strangled this person if we could have found the energy to move.

Only two of us finished 24 pages and one of them was ME! Woot! This is why I was able to leave at noon! I actually wanted to quit around six am, my hand hurt and the art was getting worse and worse. But, I persevered and ended up with a work I rather like. However, I left it at the store and have to wait till Monday to get it. When I do, I'll be posting the whole damed thing.

It'll be funny as it's rather like a flip book. Not for imagery, but for time and technique. As the pages advance the style and craft degenerate so that, to my eyes, the last two pages are little better than large thumnails.

Sweet Enemy spent the night working on the t-shirts and learning a lot about screen printing. Some turned out bad, but some turned out great (though with that 'hand-made' look). There was some interest expressed in obtaining t-shirts featuring the poster. If there is still interest, visit my portfolio and shoot me an email (sorry to be cryptic, but, well... you know...)

Listening to while posting: Sweet Enemy finishing up her dessert upstairs. Now we shall watch Iron man

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That time of year again

Suns of Charybdis is temporarily on hold. Why? It's time for the 24 Hour Comic Day!

That's right, this weekend at Artists' Mediums (the art supply store that Sweet Enemy assistant-manages), we'll be drawing comics and not sleeping*. With my pushiness guidance, SE got the whole thing going. She goaded her team into getting the nearby pizza place to donate two pizzas. They approached the Vermont Sandwich Company and it turns out the owner wants to participate (more food than if he didn't, natch.). Sadly, the super-precocious kid you might have seen last year won't be participating. According to his dad it knocked him for a loop; they'll be visiting, though.

Last year was fun and challenging and I'm curious and nervous about what I'll make. You see, last time I'd only completed one, single comic (the Mr. Twilight episode). Now, I've got a few under my belt. Will they help? Who knows! The quality will be... mediocre at best. Last year's started mediocre and went downhill fast. I bit off more than I could chew working full 11" x 17". Dumb. Here's pages two and three to show what 24hrs looks like. It's called "Villain's Day Off":

I'd like to say I'd at least be twittering, but there's no wireless available at the store (gods, I'm spoiled!). But, since I'll be working smaller, I'll post what I get. There might also be some photos of our degrading group.

Listening to while posting: "Stay Away" by Red Pocket

* My friend Mokie made up a great word well over a decade ago and I'd like to spread it. The word is 'micker'. It is that feeling you get when you are so exhausted that you can't sleep and just act like an idiot; babbling, jumping around, singing. There is a nearly 100% chance that all of us will be micker in one way or another.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Old Slides, Old Art and Old friends

I'm sitting here in the studio procrastinating practicing. Dummy.

I was looking for a special flexible ruler for drawing curves when I found three boxes of slides I took in the '90s. It turns out that the slide/film scanner attachment with my HP printer more or less sucks.

Here's a piece of art I did back in '95 (I think). I was with MS Paint (I think) on my Dad's old Gateway 486 (I'm certain). For some reason, I decided to take a photograph of this painting and I'm rather glad I did. The computer died in '97, with directory paths disappearing left and right until none of my files were accessible. This isn't a bad piece of art and must have taken me forever!

The others are of an old friend that I miss: Andy Bogard. I met him when I was in the USCG in Traverse City, Michigan. He was a local and I have no idea how I hooked up with him (You rarely made friendships with locals). We hit it off right away and rode together a lot. In '96, the year after I left MI, he rode across the country and ended in Maine to visit me. He crashed in my place and we dug him up a mountain bike and we rode for the last time; I haven't seen/heard him since.

Anecdote about Andy: We were riding in the Pere Marquette forest and stopping for a break noticed a small white rabbit trying, without success to eat a flower. It was unafraid of us and we decided that, given its tameness and that we didn't think there were wild white rabbits, we decided to rescue it. We stood there with our bikes, holding the rabbit wondering how to transport it. So, we took my helmet like a bowl and put the rabbit in it. Then we put his helmet as a cover and locked them together. Portable rabbit cage! We rode slowly out and brought the rabbit to his sister who lived nearby. She was happy to have the rabbit and gave it a good home. The rabbit seemed happy to have been transported in the helmet cage, though its fur was soaked with our sweat from the helmet pads. Poor bunny.

Now. Back to procrastinating practicing

Listening to while posting: "Gone for Good" by The Shins

Friday, October 3, 2008


Suns of Charybdis is updated. COLORING IS SLOW! Gah! Even with AndreZero helping.

If you think there have been few posts from me, you ain't seen nothing yet. I'm going to ease up on the internets from home for a while. I want to buckle down and draw nightly. Not just work on SoC, but actually practice. I think that is what I'm lacking. I need to sit down and draw from life, draw from photos, draw and re-draw the same image to work out an image style, focus on hair, on drapery, etc. I'll post when SoC is updated, though, but it may be four page updates rather than two.

What inspired this burning desire to practice? It's always been there, but I recently found a couple of web comics. Web graphic novels actually. They really got me thinking that I may have reached a plateau and just drawing my stuff won't help me increase my abilty.

One of them by an artist anyone who read Dragon Magazine in the '80s would recognize. It's a single, ongoing story that has been ongoing since '02 (recommend starting at the beginning or at least the 'new reader' section). Sweet Enemy doesn't much like the style, but I dig it and the story is pretty engaging. I like it so much I'm going to pick up some of the TPBs. I give you Girl Genius:

Also, I bought my niece one of these things. On her first birthday, I gave my sister a card that promised that, as long as I was able, I'd buy little S. every bike until she stopped growing. She's two now and she's a little daredevil (Pushing her swing back and forth makes her bored. Shoving her swing in random directions makes her laugh.), so I hope I can be the Weird Uncle and get her off-roading! Woot! I got it because I agree with the the new idea that training wheels are bad. They teach kids to pedal, yes, but that's the easy part. A running bike teaches balance and control so when they hit a pedal bike, they are all set.

Anyway, check this out. It is itty AND bitty:

Check out the videos at the site. The kids hit a freeride-trials park. Slowly.

Listening to while posting: "Ali Click" by Brian Eno