Saturday, April 30, 2011

small update

I just finished the pencils for the "Norther Borders" Page One-Hundred Project piece; I'll be inking tomorrow. However, I needed something to do, so I colored up a Big Beautiful Wonder Woman in Photoshop. I was reading Darwyn Cooke's DC: New Frontiers and thought I'd grab my brush pen and try to emulate Mr. Cooke.

Real Life 1

It was about sixty this afternoon, so I threw a leg over my Kona Jake and hit the road. I only did about eight miles in a half-hour, but it was the first ride of the year. I climbed two big hills (including the unavoidable one that our house is on) and didn't dab or even ralph. Sort of expected to ralph. I've always referred to the first rides of the season as "Ralph Rides". I guess all of the working out this winter slowed the decline much more than usual. Cool.

Real Life 2

Tomorrow evening Sweet Enemy and I are sharing dinner and porto with a good friend (and fantastic printmaker) and his wife. Not sure why I'm telling you this except to promote him.

Listening to while posting: "Head Honcho" by Devotchka

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring colds and books.

Well, I missed a week of looking for work, drawing, making model airplanes and anything else fun as I was down with a cold from the 17th to the 22nd. Sheesh! I only get sick twice a year, but when I get sick, I get SICK!


I have been doing some work on something that might lead to something else. Like money. I really enjoy making Page One-Hundred Comics. I got the wild hair to think about offering commissions of a people's favorite books. So, in that spirit, I've been working on a fully inked and hand-lettered suitable-for-framing page as a test. I chose my absolute favorite book: Northern Borders by Howard Frank Moser. I will recommend it to anyone who likes a good novel. It will be like little, if not nothing, you've ever read.

How's it going. Here's first test (click for extra-big version):

The layout itself took about two weeks of sketching. I had to take many liberties with the text because a lot happens, but there's a big moment that had to be shown. But, I'm pretty happy with it as an adaptation goes. The explosion turned out, if I may say so, awesome. A lot of failed attempts went into it and it worked, considering I've never drawn an explosion that occurred in water before. The lettering is good, but I sort of cheated with the sound effects: I typeset them in Illustrator, printed them out and traced them.

What didn't work was the figures. Even discounting the misshapen head of the grandfather, they figures are... unsure. My linework is wishy-washy and tentative. I think it might be my lack of confidence with my dip pen. I'm going to re-work the whole thing this weekend.

Another Book

In March, Sweet Enemy snagged a big audiobook cassette set of "Tojours Provence" by Peter Mayle. It was the second book of (probably) true memoirs of an Englishman who decided to escape the city life and move to rural France. His exploits of language, customs, odd neighbors and finally coming to completely adopt his new hometown's rhythms and lifestyle is funny, sweet and satisfying. For comparison, think David Sedaris if he actually loved life mixed with Bill Bryson if he was 90% less insufferable.

We then snagged the other Provence books and are now in love with the place. With the exception of the food (which Mr. Mayle writes about with infuriatingly loving, mouth-watering detail), Provence is a bit like Vermont which is, I suppose, why I fell in love with it. SE and I would like to visit, but our money, time and French language skills are lacking. If we go, I'm going to hit up my Québécois/American friend Ghislain for some helpful phrases like:

1) I have no idea what you're saying. Do you speak English?
2) I know very little French and that I do know is abysmal.
3) Lunch, please? Tasty and not expensive? What would you recommend?

So, that's it. I have been working on some Big Beautiful Wonder Woman drawings, but I put them on hold to work on the Northern Borders comic.

Listening to while posting: "Gender Bombs" by the Stills

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sorry I'm late

It was a very full four-day weekend last weekend, so this will be a long post.

Sweet Enemy headed to Massachusetts to visit my family and do some stuff.

On Saturday we stopped off in Northampton. A strange little town that appears to be equal parts annoying rich people and annoying poor hipsters. For example, there's a nice, small indoor mall which sported both a tiny, hip and expensive men's store as well as a surplus store where you can get everything from hotel soaps to cheap tools to candles to novelty magnets.

Northampton is also home to lots of galleries including SE's main target the R. Michelson Gallery. We also hit a smaller gallery down the street which offered two fun things. First, it was full of a neo-Flemish painter who, in addition to the standard still lives, also painted realistic pictures of stacked donuts. Secondly, the gallery's mascot was a friendly French bulldog. SE and I were admiring the paintings when we were startled by a clicking and a snuffling. We looked down to find this so-ugly-he's-cute little brown snorting thing. He smelled us and let us pet him then ran away, his little claws scrabbling for purchase on the wood floors. We talked with the attendant for a while and then the dog came scuttling back bearing his favorite to toy offered for inspection and an invitation to play. He was a hoot.

Then home to visit with the family. My niece is cute and four, but I was warned that she was attempting to be a drama queen; prone to moping and sulking if she didn't get exactly her way. It's just her nature, she is not spoiled. My sister finds the best way is to ignore her. The lack of attention is a painful punishment. She's still cute and I'm still the Best Uncle.

On Saturday, SE and I hit the Worcester Museum of Art. Say what you want about Worcester, but the museum is spectacular. We spent five hours there and still missed a couple of rooms. In the Mesoamerican room, I formulated an hypothesis about three related artifacts. I'm going to contact the curator of the department about it. I'll let you know how it goes. We also were turned onto a Lebanese deli by a friend and WOW, it was awesome. We grabbed some spinach pies, some halwa, some pita, some really powerful cookies and a potato-shaped mass of savory goodness called a "kibbee ball".

We also went to visit my paramedic friend Decapod Diver at work. We hung around outside talking until it got cold, then he fired up the "truck", got the heat cranking and we all sat in the back and jawed for another hour or so. It's always good to hang with him, and now it was also an interesting venue.

On Sunday, my dad and I went to a scale model contest in Chicopee. Some friends from VT were going to be entering models and running a vendor table so I thought I'd go. On a whim, I entered my Savoia S.21. At first, as it is a fictional aircraft, there was slight contention over where it would be placed. But, it ended up in 1/48 scale single-engine aircraft.

There were some amazing models there including a meter-long aircraft carrier that was easily the most detailed thing I'd ever seen (it had a lighted interior hanger bay and teeny deck crew abut 2mm tall). We got to shadow the some judges (armor) and I learned a lot. After the contest ended, I packed up my plane and we headed up to say goodbye to my friends; my dad was getting tired of standing.

One of they guys told me I should wait for the awards ceremony. I told him that there was not much chance of winning anything, but he convinced me to stay. It was neat to see awards for models that I'd been able to see judged. Then came the 1/48 aircraft. I was expecting a certificate, or at most a third. Then I got called up for the first place! I was stunned. Still am. I must have cheated.

Sunday night we watched a remarkable and utterly unique film called Mary and Max. It's a strange, poignant tale of an Australian girl and her inadvertent pen-pal, a obese Jewish shut-in. Did I mention it's all in stop-motion?

Monday saw the morning start with a lot of playing and walking in the woods with my niece and then a lot of swing-set swinging with her and the neighbor boy who's a little older than my niece (I'm told he looks forward to my visits too and calls me "Uncle", too).

The drive back was uneventful except we reached the end of the awesome book on tape (yes, tape) that SE found.

That night, after food and a short nap, we hit the local music club to watch Devotchka awesome show. Well worth the money, even though that's about it for the budget.

The past week was rougher. I'm now on the extended federal unemployment benefits, having exhausted the state ones. I'm going to have to look for not-awesome work now, I think. Maybe landscaping. So, as much as I tried, there was not much drawing as my mood was grim. I did do some work on the identity for a great local gallery that SE shows at occasionally. I friends with the gallery owner so it's unpaid, but I could get exposure. Plus, I get to help out a great local gallery, SE and a friend. It's all good.

So, because I have to post art., here's a little sketch that I did for an idea for the identity, but ended up not using:

That's all!

Listening to while posting: "The Goalie Bop" by me.