Thursday, April 29, 2010

Okita page 04

I started adding gray tones when I got to this page and then went back to catch up over the first three. From now on its pencil, ink, scan, borders, letters and tones for each page as it comes. It means I don't have to sit down and only do one thing for hours and days, and this helps me to stay fresh.

This is page 04. I'm actually working on page 07 today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Okita page 03

We have people starting to appear now, and ACTION coming up on the next pages. So far I'm staying on my one a day pace, but there's a long way to go.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Okita page 01

Third version of the first page. This one came after actually reading the script. Page 02 has also been revised as I put a word balloon around SHINSENGUMI! I'm going to try for a nice steady page a day for this 48 page story.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Okita page 02

Page 02 because I realize that I made some mistakes and variations from the script that I need to correct. I should have had the script in front of me when I drew it. Idiot.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Whipped Cream and Caramel

Last night at work I served a cup of whipped cream, larded with caramel sauce, (enough to make my hands tired squeezing it) to an overweight adolescent girl. I've done morally questionable things in my life, but for this I will surely send time in the ante-room of Hell.

Tim Gunn & Superheroes

Tim Gunn of Project Runway looks at superhero(ine) costumes

Timi Yuro

When I come up with a character name I usually do a Google search for it. I was checking on the name Timi, and came across Timi Yuro, (born Rosemary Timotea Aurro Yuro) who passed away a few years ago. She was an Italian-American singer who had a single big hit in the late 50s Cry. She had a limited range I think, at least as she got older, and a vocal sound that had many listeners believing she was African-American.

And to think I've never heard of her before.

But I kind of dig her (and she could be quite pretty) so I may indeed borrow her full stage name for one of my characters. But there are some other Timi's out there, so more research...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Baaba Maal at Mondavi

For my birthday last year C got us tickets to a concert series at the Mondavi Center in Davis. We've seen Mariza, Elvis Costello and tonight, Baaba Maal. Well i went alone tonight as C was not feeling well. I think she would have enjoyed it. I liked the music, but had some quibbles about the concert.

I've enjoyed all of these concerts but seeing them has got me thinking about performance, and what performers seem to expect as part of the experience. Tonight Baaba Maal began with two lovely slow performances, he being seated on stage with a guitar and backed by five other performers. By the third song, he stood and had the guitar removed never to return, and brought three more musicians onstage. From then on it was one high energy, high volume tune after another. Very rhythmic as you might expect from a band from Senegal. The music couldn't help but get you moving to some extent.

The audience was appreciative. I think every one enjoyed the music. But the Davis crowd tends to be older, well heeled, and sedate. The center itself encourages that. Its beautiful, but hardly a nightclub, and while wine is sold beforehand, its hardly a drunk crowd. So when the band wants you to clap along, they've got their work cut out for them to get the crowd into it.

And Baaba Maal wanted people clapping along by about the fourth song, for every song, and it got tiresome. Just because I'm not clapping doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the performance. Often it means I want to hear the performance, not obliterate it. And much as I enjoyed the music, by about the midpoint of the concert, I was getting a little bored. I think they needed to change things up a little more as Mariza and Elvis did. The ecstatic high points of a concert need to come in doses. If they are nonstop, they lose impact.

To their credit, they did finally get people up on their feet, even up on stage, dancing and loud. So the concert ended on a fine high note. They did make the audience work a little too hard for an encore I thought. But oh well.

Elvis also made a few gestures to get people to stand in ovation and Mariza made a few comments about how hard her band worked and she was always curious about how they would be received. She seemed a little disappointed in the sedate Davis crowd. I'm a little embarrassed for them myself, but just as much for the performers who seem to need this validation.

Next up is Sonny Rollins. I am looking forward to that, being an old jazz fan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Didn't get as much today as I had thought... you never do it seems. But a fair amount accomplished regardless, some of it not what i had planned is all.

I did finish a short story I've worked at over the last couple of months and got it uploaded under my pseudonym so don't bother to go looking for it. Its the third story I've done. The first got great feedback. It was a challenge because it involved two people each telling their story from their own perspective. Not everyone liked that approach, but most people found it successful. The second story was a follow-up, as told first person by about four voices, and was less well received. Most felt it seemed rushed, and I'll agree that i may have lost a little control over the voices, but i don't understand how people could be confused over who was speaking when each change was announced in a header. Oh well,

I took a break and came back with a longer story, not told in multiple voice first person, but in third person. This story was longer, and intended to offer more build up and more anticipation before the final climax. We'll see how it is received.

I am finding this a good way to try out some things before getting back to my novel. My novel, BTW will have to be started over from scratch. But I'm learning, I hope so there's that.

One of the things I think I need to change is to incorporate more thorough outlining. For these shorts I can start with a sort of goal in mind and maybe hold it in my head, but with this last story, because I didn't just race through it in a few days, I think it drifted. Not enough to make it incoherent, but enough that it became a different story from the one I started. Not a bad thing, what comes out when I right is probably what I need to be doing, just as what I draw the way I draw it, is simply my way.

I try not to focus on a specific style, but just assume that my style will emerge naturally. This is advice I heard from folk singer Tom Paxton in a radio interview many decades ago, and it has stuck with me. Do the work, and your own voice will emerge.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carry a Notebook

I've started carrying a small Moleskine notebook to work while I play around with some ideas for song lyrics. It helps me to not forget things. I've never been a big one to carry sketchbooks around and such, but hopefluu this one will help me to stay productive.

Now I need to take some of this raw material and spend time getting it organized and working. Tomorrow after work would be a good time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Some days I just don't want to go to work.

I'm on call for work today, and I sort of hope I don't have to go in. Now I need the hours so officially I hope they do call me in, but I'm having some fun doing creative stuff today, and so...

If they don't call me in, well, I'm just back from the gym (which went better then the last time) so I could have more fun working at home and sharing the evening with C, if she doesn't hole up doing her own work.

Mostly I'm writing, but I should do some drawing as well, so I best get to it.

Drifting a Little

Just a little.

The homework is caught up and although there will be more to come, I don't anticipate it being too demanding and there are only about six weeks left of class. Not quite ready to start some serious writing, although I've some shorter stuff to play with as time allows. Tomorrow perhaps. C will be out quilting and I'll have some quiet time.... not that she's loud or like that.

But in general I find myself defaulting to Okita and The Cat. I hadn't expected to start quit yet, but then, why not? Maybe for this one I'll slow down... generally I draw pretty fast, but for this I'll slow down and take my time, see if i can't come up with something a little better then the past.

I need to plan my academic future as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Some New Kind of Slaughter made it to the shelves at Emeryville B&N because of a staff recommendation. Who could have done that?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pushing through

Yesterday I mentioned planning ahead, to balance when things get done. Today I was thinking about pushing through, staying the course when it gets tough. Mostly I was thinking about this while I was on the stationary horizontal bike, pedaling away at the gym. I didn't feel like being on the bike (I rarely do) but thought it would help balance yesterday's workout, and I was using the idea of writing about how I pushed through to the end of my projected ride, (30 minutes). Motivation, y'know?

I got off after eight minutes.

Yesterday I thought I might push through and finish the thumbnails for Okita and the Cat (48 pages).

I finished ten.

But am I discouraged? Not at all. I can always come back to it, and will soon enough, and that's opart of the planning. This is not to say that there isn't great value in pushing through to the completion of a project, before taking on something new. I'm a big believer in not spreading your self too thin, and taking things through to finish before moving on.

But sometimes it just doesn't work that way, and you can't beat your self up over it. It's just part of the process. Come back and start again... even if its failing to go to the gym for a week, or dropping the novel I started (and have decided to scrap and star fresh with). And thinking ahead about these changes and planning the space for them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Six month plan.

A day off today and several more to come this week. I may actually not be working so much this week, so Its time to get other things done. I've been waiting for the rains to finish so I can do my last bit of spring planting. I spent a bit of time doing thumbnails for Okita and The Cat. I took care of some more digital housekeeping, and began developing a six month plan.

I'm not a big one for writing down lists but I do think ahead about what I need to get done and when I will have the time to accomplish that. So yesterday was doing the homework for next week. It wasn't a lot, but now its out of the way.

Tomorrow I will have to spend time learning to use C's nook because I'm expected to spend four hours at work tomorrow pimping it to customers without ever having been given the time I need to learn to use it. Watching someone else use it as they explain doesn't really cut it for me. I can't say that training has been all that I might wish at my new job, but I'll just have to deal with it. I'm not at all clear with myself how long I'll remain there. I sometimes like it and sometimes don't, but my sense is that this is not a long term solution for me.

Another thing to calculate into my six month plan.

Other things?

Finishing Okita. Finishing my website upgrade. Paying down my debt. Writing more and staring a project that's too long delayed. Planning for more classes. Getting past a thing too long on my mind.

Poor signal to noise ratio.

Y'know, this isn't supposed to be a diary. Its public after all and should offer something of note to my presumptive audience. If I post everyday though, its unlikely that I'll have something thoughtful or perceptive to say regularly.

On the other hand, if I wait for brilliant thoughts, I may never post at all. You have to produce to produce anything of value, and while the value of an of this may only be to me (as likely the only reader) there may be too much of wading through the minutia and detritus of my life to make finding the truffles worth the effort for anyone else.

Its a balance then. Think deep thoughts and then splat all over the page on a daily basis. Of course, since this isn't a diary, there are things I'll never say here.

I saw my book.

I brought copies of my books into work for share and tell last week, and it was suggested I make a staff recommendation out of it. Sure enough I found three copies of Some New Kind of Slaughter on the staff rec shelf today when I went into work.

Maybe the only time my books have made it onto the shelves of a major book chain.

WonderCon Day Three

I didn't go.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

WonderCon Day Two

After five years, we sold out The Lone and Level Sands!

Archaia was giving away the pamphlet comics and selling the hardbacks as "buy one, get one free." I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not. In some respects its good, as it clears costs to future projects. I can see where it may make some business sense. And if it gets my stuff out into people's hands, that's a good thing too. But it suggests that not all of their product is well selected, and given the delays in getting some of the legacy books out, they may see it that way.

I've seen it before though, with Malibu, where the company moved on and didn't take me with it. Could be happening here, although everyone is nice as pie when I show up.

Good crowds at WonderCon. The whole con thing, and geek culture is certainly growing. I love them, I have ancient roots in cons, comics, science fiction, even with my dislikes. To lean back and gaze at the ungainly folk in weird costumes and think, "My people. These are my people." So sad. But its seems to be an unassailable part of who I am, and where I came from.

And once again, after the con, it was work. Eight hours on my feet in a busy cafe, pouring drinks and ringing the register. I'm too old for this shit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WonderCon Day One

Its Good Friday (it was kind of a rough day for Jesus, but that's ancient history now) and many people have the day off. Maybe that's why it was so busy at WonderCon today, and at work after. The freeways were packed, too. And it rained.

I showed up at WonderCon this morning, somewhat to Mel's surprise, but he was gracious as always and found me a spot to sit and pimp my two Archaia books, SNKS and LaLS. Sold a few in an hour as well.

I brought some drawing stuff with me, but I'll probably leave it at home tomorrow. I don't really like drawing at cons, and don't produce much of value. Its not that I mind people watching me draw, its just that I feel like I'm there for another purpose. I'm there to sell my books and schmooze/network, and drawing inhibits that, plus I can't really concentrate on what I'm drawing. Lots of artists make money drawing at cons. I will never be one of those.

Too bad in a way. I was going to work on some character sketches for Okita, but it was sort of a waste of time.

The other thing I've learned in decades of attending cons, is that I'm only really comfortable when I have a home base, a publisher whose table I can sit at. I was good when I was with Malibu, back in the day. And I like sitting at the Archaia table. I'm validated, and not bored.

You see, I don't really read much comics anymore, I don't tend to buy much, I'm shy about approaching other artists, the floor is too crowded and my hip hurts when I walk it too much. But behind a table, with a product I know how to sell, I'm confident, lively and comfortable.

Its that way at work. I can talk about coffee, because I've had the time and opportunity to learn about it, but at my new job, I'm scheduled to spend time next week talking about a gadget I've had little time getting to know and don't have much natural interest in. I don't have much natural interest in coffee either, but that doesn't matter. I know about it, and that makes all the difference for me.

If you come to me, I can sell you on something. I can't make cold call sales.

Enough post drift. I spent the second half of the day at work, and it was very busy, and tomorrow it all starts over again. Lots to do this weekend and much left undone.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

48 small steps

I prepped 48 pages for OKITA + THE CAT this afternoon. Tedious work, but now its done and I can get on to the next step as time permits. I had planned this project for summer, but if I can get on it earlier, so much the better. I prefer to be ahead of the curve on projects because new stuff always comes along.

Today's changes

Today is a day for digital housekeeping (some household housekeeping too). I'm mostly sorting out my web presence, condensing, expanding, even starting a blog. I'm not at all sure just how long this thing will last. I get tired of hearing myself after a while, and me just talking about me will bore me soon enough.

I'm very project oriented though, and if I consider Eaten By as a finite project, I could find myself putting a lot of steady work into it. I have several projects on the horizon to consider, some comics I've committed to, a bit of planting to finish (next week, its too wet today), WonderCon this weekend, plus I have to work in the evenings. But I think that one of the changes I need to get to, sooner rather then later is writing more.

Some of it could be comics, but having comics published also counts as a check-off in my life goals. No, I'm thinking I want to write a novel. I have something in mind, but its not yet time to share.

A couple of years ago I kept a worklog going here for around nine months. I think it still stands as one of the longest worklogs at the site. In time, I think this will become a worklog to complement my portfolio website .

Time for a change.

I find that it is time for a change, but not the change that I had planned. I left my job recently, but not for the job I had hoped to go to. I went back to school two years ago and I expect to have my certificate in hand by semester's end. But there are few jobs in the field I trained for and multitudes of people with better credentials.

This has happened to me before and I've disappointed myself and C when money and time and effort failed to pay off.

But I don't want to mope here. This simply means that I have to make a decision. Should I continue to take classes to enhance my skills in a field that may not have a place for me, or do I head in a new direction yet again? The idea of a new direction does not bother me in itself. I need new challenges and to be productive for me to be happy. I'm not made to fill a dent in the couch. I have to keep busy.

And I will, but more on that in a later post.