Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy belated holidays!

To all who read this, whether a regular or not, I hope that your holiday season contained some joy, some mirth, a bit of good food and drink and a heaping helping of happiness.

Sweet Enemy and I got too frazzled to get a tree this year (I haven't found a design job and worked the holiday season at my local, independent toy store. Lots of fun!). So, our resident Yeti, Mr. Philbert Appleshrug generously allowed us to decorate him for the Yuletide. Here he is on Xmas morning:

The two gifts below at his feet were both for S.E. I'd had them kicking around my studio for a while (one since August!). The first she opened was Rocco Vargas: The Dark Forest" by Daneil Torres. I am blessed to have a wife who not only likes sequential art and sci-fi, but likes quirky, retro sequential art and sci-fi! If you also like those things, check Torres out. He's pretty awesome (and Spanish).

Her next gift was Terry Pratchett's latest (and possibly last) Tiffany Aching novel "I Shall Wear Midnight". Now, the thing about these gifts, is that they weren't something that only SE would like (I love Pratchett and I was the one who introduced her to Torres) and that made me feel a bit cheap. However, the true gift was that I did not even open them for a moment before she did; they were wrapped at the store immediately upon purchase. She graciously said that was good enough.

Our families were very generous to us and I, for one, always feel like I didn't deserve such generosity. Thanks guys.

One of the things I got was a gift certificate to my local, independent bookstore. Which I used yesterday to buy Jake Parker's newest Missile Mouse adventure. At times it feels aimed at an audience a bit younger than the first, at other times it doesn't. Throughout, however, Parker's art is solid and sweet. He also includes a "Universe of Missile Mouse" section that showcases his cool schematics and process work from the MM universe.

If you haven't read MM, do so. If you want to win copies of both books AND some ORIGINAL ART(!) hit jake's website for details on how to win.

In Obscure Tales news, AndreZero is working on fleshing out a new story I concepted while drinking an Americano at the bookstore while reading MM (inspiring is another adjective to give to Mr. Parker's work). No date set, but I've already started doing production design. I can't say what it's about, but it will push my abilities, that I'm sure of.

Well, I've got a date to go watch Dr. Who (10th doctor and Martha) with Sweet Enemy. Have I mentioned her awesomeness?

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's time!

Firstly, the new AndreZero-penned Obscure Tales episode is up. I give you:

Interrogation 101.


Secondly, the meager response to the free drawing giveaway means that all posters get one! I'll work on them in order of posting and new-ness. So, in order, it's: 1) Decapod 2) Arjan 3) Rambler 4) Snab. Get your thinking caps on and decide what you want. Hit my portfolio and dig up my email (you're now part of a special crew) and let me know what you want. We'll work out shipping once I'm done drawing.

In other news, we survived the huge wind storm (90 MPH gusts) out here last week just fine. Only two trees down, and that means firewood next year. We did lose power for three days due to a four-meter pine branch hanging on the lines. Sweet Enemy, Bernie the Fat Cat and I made the best of it, though; sitting in our stove-room, heating tortillas on the wood stove by the light of our glass-chimney'd oil lamp. We read comics and ghost stories and basically enjoyed a small technology-free vacation. I took some video of the trees in our woods blowing like wheat; if I can get it off of the camera, I'll post it.

Power was back on Friday thanks to the hard work of the CVPS crews. There were 25,000 out total in our county and some friends were still without power; they had a large maple across the road and hanging on the lines at EACH end of their road.

We do have to call a tree surgeon as a big pine right next to the house has developed a vertical crack in one of its large (8") branches. Creepy.


Listening to while posting, Symphony #7 by Antonin Dvorak on VPR Classical

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stuff and things and others things!

Firstly, I'm halfway done inking and coloring Obscure Tales issue 7. Here's the cover:

This is smaller issue than before, so it will be posted all at once. Keep watching for the announcement of the posting.

Secondly, 'tis the season!

I'm again offering free 6" x 6" ink drawings*. I'm offering five again, but due to my job situation, we'll have to talk about postage. Also, if you don't make the cut, I'll do one, or any other art for very small amounts of cash or in trade for a similar-sized piece of original art.

You might be saying to yourself, how do I get a free drawing? Just comment "I want a free drawing!". If you are one of the five, I'll post your name on the blog and you can contact me via email and we'll talk about what you want and shipping. C'mon! You can't beat the price.

If you've already gotten a free one last time, you can still ask for one. However, newbies get priority. Anyone can give me money, however. The commissions can be of nearly any size or type of work from the standard 6" x 6" ink drawing to a comic.

Thirdly, if my art doesn't float your boat, perhaps the art of Arkonbey's Favorite Person on the Planet™ Sweet Enemy will. She has an etsy store that sells original art and prints.

So, let me know if you want something!

UPDATE 23 Nov 2010: You have until December 4th to request a free drawing

listening to while posting: "I Miss You" by Bjork

*The free ink drawing can be of any subject or character, but there are limits. I'll do mild or suggested violence, but no gore; I'll do tasteful nudes or pinups or even innuendo, but no graphic sex; scat and vore are right out. I like to have my artistic boundaries pushed, but am to wimpy to do it myself. So I'll accept any challenge you throw out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pigs in Space, 1953 (and other stuff)

Halloween is over. We had our party (you should have been there!). It may have been a success since folks didn't leave until about midnight (yeah, I know that's early. Some had to work and one had to get sleep for a four-hour drive).

Kick Enemy Men, Sweet Enemy and I stayed up talking for another hour or more talking. KEM lives four hours away and we don't see him nearly as much as we'd like. A new friend brought a sampler of microbrews from around the country (he's a maven). Many awesome beers were tasted. Decapod Diver, my oldest friend came up from MA (he really needed a break) and brought a goose/duck/buffalo chili (he personally shot and dressed two of the animals); it was delicious. Add to that my nearly-famous lentil stew, pumpkin pie, snacks and Irish Coffee, it was a feast.

After Irish coffees, we all piled into our long, narrow living room to watch An American Werwolf in London. It's been my favorite of DD and I since we first saw it back in the eighties. This time, we got to watch it with a girl who'd a) never seen it and b) was a bit of a ingenue with horror cinema. She was affected by the effects. Even the transformation freaked her out! This was awesome. It is one of the best transformations in cinema history and it's nice to see that it can still stand up after all these years.


The newest Obscure Tale is on hold. Well, not on hold, really. I've got six pages inked, but I'm tossing them into the woodstove and starting again. I don't like the inking style. It's boring and lacks good line variation. I think the Pentel brush pen is in order. To get practice with it, I refined and inked a sketch I had done last Thursday. It was going to be a "standard" Golden Age space-girl, but her chubbiness and the stylized pose made me think of Ms. Piggy. So, since I'd already done a BSG-style re-imagining drawing of the Swinetrek crew, I thought I'd do a Golden Age version of Ms. Piggy.

The lineart works pretty well (thanks to Sweet Enemy for making me re-work Piggy's breasts, they look much better now), but the color is only okay. I always fall back on local color shadows.

listening to while posting: "Tokyo, I'm on my way" by Puffy Ami Yumi

Friday, October 29, 2010

no art, but an Halloween Anecdote

While looking for a new design job, I work part time at a small, independent toy store and this happened just this afternoon. A woman came up to the counter to pay for a fake beard. She then asked if we had any top hats. I told her we didn't and asked her what the costume was going to be.

"Oh," she said, rather proudly, "my six year old daughter wants to go as Abraham Lincoln!"

"No way!" I eloquently replied

"Really, she wants to say 'four score and seven years ago... Trick Or Treat!' She though of this costume all by herself."

As she was walking out, I mentioned that she could make her daughter a little Emancipation Proclamation.

"Yeah!" she replied, "She could say 'Hey, I freed the slaves, give me some candy!'"

listening to while posting: a replay of last year's Halloween hit: Under the sun:

Friday, October 15, 2010

An excuse to post and meaningless content to fill it up

Well, I just finished pencilling the last page of the upcoming Obscure Tales comic (written by Andre). It's only nine pages, but it's pretty good. I was managing to get a page done in a night, so this bodes well for the future. I should have the pages inked, colored and posted in a couple of weeks.

I also went to the Vermont Tech Jam today to try to find some contacts to get a design job. However, they should put an asterisk after the name of the event. The footnote should read: "If you're not a developer or a salesperson, don't bother coming because there's nothing for you here". So, the evening's been pretty down. I'm going back tomorrow just to drop my name at the booth of a local web design shop. I know they're only hiring PHP and CSS coders, but I'm going to try to leave a card.

To lighten the mood, here's a Hallowe'en meme I'm stealing from Becca. I'm not really a big Hallowe'en fan, but what the heck:

1.What is the worst treat to get when trick-or-treating?

Can't think of anything. I dig it all. I'll even eat those cheapo chocolate characters wrapped in printed foil. (that is not to say that I don't enjoy and savor the good stuff)

2.What character from any horror film would you most like to play?

Any werewolf, pretty much. Probably something Freudian in that, eh?

3.Would you rather be a zombie, alien, or psycho? (why)

Weird question. Probably an alien. Psychos are everywhere in real life and zombies are way over done.

4.How many Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street movies combined do you have on dvd?

Zero. But we do have John Carpenter's "The Thing" and "An American Werewolf In London'

5.What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?
Horror movies don't really scare me much. But, Sweet Enemy and I once watched Dog Soldiers together at a friend's house deep in the woods on windy night. We watched the film in a "mother-in-law" apartment with tiny windowsin the house's basement. We were pretty sure that, even if there were werewolves, the odds of them choosing that particular night to attack were slim, but we spent the night pretty creeped out.

6. Lamest costume you have worn on Halloween?

In 1984 we flew across the country to visit my grandparents in Irvine, CA over Hallowe'en. I could think of nothing so I put a paper bag over my head and went as the Unknown Comic and canvassed my grandparent's subdivision. When people asked if they knew me, I'd say "No! I'm the Unknown Comic!" and beat feet.

7.Favorite Halloween treat?

For some reason, Smarties. I seemed to only get them on Hallowe'en, so they are the quintessential Hallowe'en candy for me. One taste and it's the Eighties all over again.

8. Friendly-faced jack o’lantern or scary one?

As long as it isn't one of the "stencils carved on the front of a pumpkin" ones, I'm happy.

9.Have you ever had nightmares about a scary movie character chasing you?

Never actually. However, when I was four, I did have a vivid nightmare that the counting hands from Sesame Street held me down while other counting hands pulled my mother into a mattress that was leaning up against the wall of my bedroom. Watching that video still creeps me out.

10.Best thing about Halloween?

Umm. Cheap candy in November?

11.Strangest Halloween custom you’ve heard of?

Well, there's this one house we drive by that puts up Hallowe'en lights that look just like X-mas lights only in orange. That's weird. They're in the middle of nowhere, too.

12.Person in your family who most likes Halloween (not counting yourself)?

Sweet Enemy by a long shot! She loves it and her only regret about our house is that it's too remote for trick-or-treaters. She'd do the whole house up if we got 'em.

13.Are you superstitious? If so, name at least one superstition of yours.

Occasionally, but not obsessively. I'm generally superstitious until I forget to be. For instance, I once had a great mountain bike racing season where I only used blue Gatorade. However, once I was out of blue and used lemon-lime and I raced anyway (I still placed third, as usual).

Listening to while posting: "Earthquakes and Sharks" by Brandston

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

24 Hour Comic Day 2010: The Aftermath Part 2

It's done and I must say, I'm rather proud of it. Sure, I would have liked to have finished it fully during the event, but oh, well. I'm proud that I wrote it and thumbnailed it so quickly. I'm happy that my initial paneling decisions seemed to work pretty well. They're not super-dynamic, but coherent. There are some nice moments in the art, considering, too. What I'm most happy with, though, is the fact that this story isn't super-depressing. My first year, I tried to be funny and only got six pages done. The next year my story was kind of dark. Year three's story was downright sad and I'm glad that I broke the cycle without, I think, being saccharin.

As you read the finished story, keep in mind that I worked in the same spirit as the event (just not so tired). That means that I didn't stray from the dialog and paneling that I worked out in the first hour (unless I couldn't read the dialog or understand what the stick figures were supposed to do. I also worked quickly, and decisively, not changing much once I started dark pencilling. That means that the last six pages will be as rough as the first eighteen. You'll also notice that had to fight the urge to grab a reference for the running dog since I didn't bring any such thing to the event.

Without further ado, here's "Special Delivery" in its entirety (to keep myself honest, I marked the pages that were finished after the event with a little triangle at the bottom):

What did you think? Good? Bad? Okay? I'll take critiques (but keep in mind the circumstances). Question: Should I re-do it with better art and better paneling, or let it stand as its own thing?

Listening to while posting: "Pushy" by Lemon Jelly

Sunday, October 3, 2010

24 Hour Comic Day 2010: The Aftermath

In keeping with it's Appalachian Trail-like aura, I am beat and do not want to think of 24HCD again and cannot understand why I'd do such a thing. Of course, I said that last year, too.

The Event

This year was interesting. I took the lead on the poster, the marketing, the sponsor-gathering, the setting up, nearly everything and it worked out pretty well. The setup went smooth and worked well. Our sponsors came through magnificently. (more than we could have hoped, actually. Sweet Clover Market donated a HUGE box of chocolate-covered pretzels. Phoenix Books delivered two airports of coffee, some creamer, some cups and cookies. Rocky's Pizza came through with four cheese pizzas at 6:30pm.)

For my part, I didn't expect to finish and I didn't; only eighteen pages. The reasons for this were: 1) I was the MC, so I was answering random questions for a while, 2) and also as MC I had to check in latecomers 3) I bit off more than I could chew story-wise (more later) and 4) I decided early on that this wasn't going to be about getting work done. If I wanted that, I'd have stayed in the studio. So, I chatted with visitors, customers and other participants.

We started at 9AM on Sat and I petered out about 6AM on Sun. I couldn't draw anymore. So I walked outside to watch a rabbit eating in the grass near the store, went inside to start cleaning up a bit. We ended up leaving at 9AM and home by 9:30.

We learned a lot for next year (example: there's going to be an age restriction. Nobody under sixteen will be allowed to participate past 9PM without a parent present; 12 year old girls can get WAY too giggly after too much caffeine and candy at 2AM). But, I don't want to think of that now.

The Comic

This year, for myself and the other participants, I created 'inspiration cards'. I grabbed a bunch of images off of Google's Life photo archive , stuff of mine and photos and art I've collected over the years. I printed those out into a 'deck' of cards for the participants to go through for an idea. The one I chose was this:

I wish I knew who the artist was so I could give him/her credit. The image (and four others of the same artist) have been on my drives since 2002 and I've re-named them. I really like the stuff and wish I could see more.

I stared at this picture for five minutes then started writing words and connecting those words with arrows until I had a very bare storyline. I then hit the thumbnail trail and sketched out the entire story. As with most of my 24HCD works, this was like a Star Trek:TNG episode: 3/4 full of padding then a rushed resolution. What stymied me was the complexity that became inherent within the piece. I tried to mitigate this by doing lots of cinematic cuts of one talking head to another. Boring, but easier to draw. Another sticking point was that I scripted two fight scenes. I've never done a real fight scene before and never thought of doing one under this kind of pressure. The final bit was that my comic involved doing a kawai character and a dog. Neither of which I'd really drawn before and never as a recurring character in action poses!

I did decide early on that dark pencilling would be "done". Mostly because I liked how my pencils were looking and also because that would be the only way I'd come close to finishing. The art, of course, degraded over time, but there are some nice moments including some later on. So, here's the comic, one panel shy of eighteen pages, the last being nearly finished at 6AM Oct 3rd. It's called "Special Delivery" and I'd be curious to know if anyone would want to see it finished...

Whew! Thanks for reading! If you've got an 24HCD event in your town next year and you make comics, DO IT! If you don't make comics, go see some tired artists!

listening to while posting: "Tokyo I'm on my way" by Puffy AmiYumi

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Posters and Posters

First, and most importantly, the original painting for the 24-Hour Comics Poster is up for raffle! Tickets are $3.00 and all proceeds are going to benefit the Williston Community Food Shelf. If you want a chance to win a big acrylic gouache painting of the poster, email Artists' Mediums. The poster is matted and professional framing is available for an additional cost. Shipping is extra.

I will also have a limited number of the color photocopied posters for sale for $2.00 each (the proceeds also going to benefit the Williston Community Food Shelf). These are un-matted and shipping is extra.

Just to remind you, here is the awesome thing (if I do say so myself. And I do)

Secondly, we're having our fourth annual Horror Movie Mini-fest. This year it's a werewolf theme. No CGI huskies fighting glowing emo-goths, here, folks! If you want to come, shoot me an email.

listening to while posting: the cool autumn rain outside. Man, I love autumn...