Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obscure Tales: slowly returning

I meant to have the new Obscure Tales story inked and scanned this weekend, but I ran into a not-unexpected snag: I suck.

I attempted to work in a new style for me. I decided to try to emulate the, apparently inimitable Michael Cho and it didn't work. That is actually an understatement. I was using tools in a way I hadn't before and tried to move as quickly as I do with techniques I know. I managed three pages before admitting defeat.

There were some nice moments, though and I did learn a lot. Mostly about using more than one tool for a page. I'm re-inking the comic in a version of my 'style' and just finished the first page using a dip pen, a Pigma Micron 01 and two kolinsky sable brushes. Not bad.

The new comic, I will tell you, is short (four pages plus cover) and is an expanding of a one-page comic I did a few years ago. The cover is up, but if you want the synopsis, you can go to the home page .

Listening to while posting: The End Them to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai by Neil Norman

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Infrequent Comic Review 3

For his combined b-day/Xmas gifts, I'm ordering AndreZero some comics. One thing he requested, but he basically said surprise me. I hit Heavy Ink and just began clicking. The first bunch came and I left it in the envelope unopened. The newest one, I had to open. You see, I ordered it as sort of a test. It looked pretty cool and I thought I might want one for us, so if it sucked, AndreZero got it, if it was good, he still got it and I ordered our own.

I'm so ordering a copy of this comic. May I present, "We 3"

The basic story is relatively simple. Imagine a 1950's Military Science Gone Wrong film directed by the guy who did Dog Soldiers. Three pets, a dog, a cat and a rabbit have been stolen and subjected to an ethically-challenged USAF experiment. Altered, enhanced and encased in horribly be-weaponed armor, they've been turned into cybernetic killing machines. After a successful mission, the powers that be have decided to shut the project down and the animals 'decommissioned'. One scientist can't bring herself to kill them so she removes their safety interlocks and sets them free..

That's all I'll give you. The story is a page-turner; compelling, sad, horrifying and thought-provoking. It even has a laugh-out-lout bit right after a moment of sadness. The ending is a tad weak, but the ride is so relentless, that a soft landing doesn't feel so bad.

The art? The art is fantastic. I've never heard of Frank Quitely, but I'm going to be looking for his stuff now. Imagine Geoff Darrow ( Hard Boiled ) without too much detail and Richard Corben ( Banner! )with more detail. His figures have a solidity and lack of exaggeration that makes them almost seem traced. Almost, but second glances reveal positions that would be near-impossible to stage for photography.

He also has a unique page layout style. It takes some getting used to, but it is so cinematic in its direction that the uniqueness fades pretty quickly. One notable thing is how Quitley uses digital effects. Every so often there will be a motion blur, a fade, a focus blur, or in one fantastic two page spread, 3d cgi mixed with the traditional ink work. I despise the proliferation of lazy artists not drawing motion lines or 'sweeps' and relying on Photoshop to make up for their lack of ability. this is not how Quitely used it. For him, as for Miyazki, digital effects are a tool to be used as salt is used in food.

I will warn you now, this comic is gross, really gross. Even more so than Hard Boiled. However, like Dog Soldiers, the gore is not there to titillate. It is there to truly show the horror of the character's situation and pull you deep into their world. So, it feels specific rather than gratuitous. That being said, if you don't like blood and guts, avoid this.

However, if you don't mind blood and guts if it's part of a compelling, imaginative and rather original comic, this must be in your cubby at the store.

Listening to while posting: "Quiet" by Hard Goodbye

Also, artist Les McClane probably still needs help finding home for his friend's kitties

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

don't let F.A.T.B.O.Y. get them!

Hey, Portland, OR comic fans (you know who you are)! Want to help Les McClane out?

Les is the artist behind the fantastic Middleman comic and the equally fantastic, but not-yet-published Jonny Crossbones. What does he need, other than people to buy the comics? Well, Les lives in Portland, OR and he needs some help finding good homes for the cats of a friend who has to move to a no-cats-allowed apartment.

Need a cat? Les can get it for you. I can't guarantee anything, but you might be able to wrangle a sketch out of him if you prove worthy enough to take the cats. So, hit his site and see if these cats are what you might need in your house. It is winter after all and another warm body can't hurt!

Also, Obscure Tales 5 is in progress. Not the big story from AndreZero, but a smaller story I've had kicking around for a while.

listening to while posting: "more to life than this" by Bjork