Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Job

There's much about this new job I like, and with my first paycheck coming, I expect to like it more. But I am working long hours and don't have the energy I'd like to get some creative work done... and here I am screwing around writing e-mails and The Facebooking and writing a blog when I should be drawing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Advice To Comic Writers

I got a lovely script tonight. It was lovely for several reasons, but one of them is something that has been floating around the back of my mind, but had never articulated it before.

Most of the pages featured an even number of panels.

Let me explain. I often, so often, get scripts that predominately have five panels to a page. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily. My sense is that writers are striking some compromise between density and decompressed comics. An odd number of panels provides flexibility. It can work very well, but...

An odd number of panels requires the artist to make one(or more) panels larger and therefor more important than the others. And it may be that the one you have to give prominence to may not warrant it.

Whereas, and even number of panels gives you the option to make equal sized panels, or to make one larger as required. In the absence of some compelling reason to use a specific number of panels, an even number actually provides more flexibility.

One of my tricks for visualizing a page is to make a note to myself on the script at the beginning of each page. Many writers will indicate how many panels there are, but I go further and make a note as to how many panels there are in each tier, row, of panels. So: 2-2-2, or 3-2-2, or 1-2-3.

It may be necessary to make a panel larger because of heavy dialogue, more participants, it's an establishing shot, or a place for the key action. Whatever the reason, its good for the writer to be aware of these things, and plan for it. In the absence of this awareness, if a writer wants to leave this to the artist, then its more flexible to go with an even number of panels, rather than odd.

Or so it seems to me.

My Day At Work

Most of the time I'm looking for cracks and potholes, but today I got to look at this during work. Sweet! The Northern California countryside is quite green in the spring. Of course I screwed up again, and did and hour and a half of work that had to be redone. Paying attention at the beginning sure can help. A lesson to learn again the hard way. Fortunately was able to use the mistakes later in correcting them, which saved me time. I just counted the mistake time as my lunch hour. I don't charge for my screw-ups.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bluetick and Redbone Character Designs

I was asked to sex up the female lead in this story, from my earlier version. Well, she is a stripper in the story. I continue to be optimistic about this new marker technique. It incorporates the color into the drawing, and will save me scads of time doing the digital coloring.

Black Flies Hello Again

I looked up and JH and RH (no relation) came back to me with a proposal to provide 3d models of the spaceships to be rendered and used in the comic. It actually sounds like it could be feasible. Lets see what the models look like.

I've worked with 3d digital assets before in comics. I don't think they usually look very good for doing people, but for spaceships... it seems like a natural. Looks like I'm back in.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Black Flies Good Bye

I hated to do it, especially after the work that he, and we had put into it, but I told my partner I felt I needed to drop out of the Black Flies project. The propagating reason was simple enough... I simply don't draw good spaceships nor the industrial tech feel that we wanted for this project.

I don't like failing to complete a project, or failing to make a deadline even, although our only deadlines here were whatever self-imposed ones we chose. That attitude is needed to get things done. It takes a long time and commitment to draw comics, especially long comics. I've been doing short comics the past few years as I recharged myself to do another long one.

Black Flies isn't an especially long project, although it took longer to get rolling than I expected. But it was a project that I liked very much, and I think it could be a success, but it won't be, it won't even draw eyes, if the critical space hardware looks bad. And no question, mine did.

So why not buckle down and simply learn to draw better space ships? I tell myself that I want to re-invent my style into something more careful; why not carefully draw the spaceships? Just no feel for it, I suppose. Is that the same thing as I don't want to?

Maybe so, in which case I am catering to my whims.

Or its part of me changing and events not keeping up. Head Mechanics seems to be dead as well. I haven't heard from the writers in months. My enthusiasm has waned there as well.

I've told myself and others that I wasn't going to wait for others to give me permission to draw comics. I've always meant publishers when I've said that, but it applies to creative partners as well, I'm realizing. TD is making no real progress drawing a story I wrote for her. Black Flies and Head Mechanics have lingered for six months or thereabouts. I'm waiting on a writer for Redbone and Bluetick and considering doing The Great Gatsby right now, and my enthusiasm for that is high, but its going to take time.

Meanwhile my personal projects linger. Will Not Wrapped Tight die on the vine?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gatsby 001

So I finished reading Gatsby last night.

An offer has come up to pitch a graphic novel adaptation. Gatsby is still under control, so rights would have to be obtained. The publisher would have to like our pitch. Contracts arranged. Then we would have to do it.

I haven't read the book since high school, so I down loaded a copy to my wife's nook e-reader yesterday and read through it. Its a short novel, 114 pages. Hard to get it published today at that length. Seems like everything has to be 300 pages anymore.

The following are some of the thoughts about adapting it I just sent to the writer. Its a start.


For purposes of adaptation it does have the virtue of being short. I should think that the first step in adapting it would be to go through it and determine what to eliminate, or compress and what to use. And then, what should be described in narrative captions, and what should be illustrated.

Nick's visual descriptions will have to go from the narrative, of course. How Gatsby looks in his blue suit on the white steps; how radiant and endearing his smile.... I have to capture these in the art, and not compete with verbal images. On the other hand, some passages seemed to go by in a blur (perhaps it was simply late, and my attention wavered) but Myrtle appearing from the garage and getting run over seemed a bit vague. That may have to be elaborated a bit (and I'll need to re-read that.) On the other hand, these kind of transitions might best be handled by lifting Fiztgerald's passages almost verbatim as narrative captions and allow the dream-like passages to stand.

How to portray Gatsby's energetic, nervous motion, the foot tapping? This might be a little of both, verbal and visual. And of course the prudent use of silent panels... Gatsby looking at the stars from his porch, Nick entering the room where he first sees Daisy and Jordan lounging on the divan in white... this is where we can capture much of the mood. This is a book with ample room for silence.

In B&W, I've been drawing a lot using low cast light, shadows to one side of the body, light on the other, and this has translated to the colored marker drawings I've been doing. I like this for Gatsby, it suggests twilight and crisp early mornings and that seems appropriate for the era, this late partying crowd and the themes of end of the day and new starts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Color Sketches

Some of the colored marker drawings I've played with these last few days. Its promising, but needs refinement.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Grind

The cover for a just finished small project, and very short story with an esteemed collaborator RL. Good little story, tightly written, and smoothly executed.

WonderCon Report

I went to WonderCon over this past weekend and have a few things to say about the experience. It was the kick-off for a new push in comics. I've been laying low for the past couple of years, going to school to re-train for a new job, and while the job I found isn't quite what I was training for, yet I am excited about it, satisfied, and ready to re-invent myself, yet again, artistically.

RL has been pulling me out on some small projects, and I thank him. Its been a good collaboration, but... but I'm anxious to begin working as a sole creator. And with a newly evolved style. I've been playing with markers lately, inspired by Darwyn Cooke's PARKER (see a previous post.) I've worked with markers in the past, and abandoned them. But this approach is different... not quite the way Cooke does it, but that's to be expected. My way will invariably be different. But it also seems to be working for me. I like the results I'm seeing, and it seems to be drawing attention while sketching at the Con.

One of the other great things about being there this year was that I actually had three of my books in front of me, and a poster for the fourth. the poster was a free giveaway and went over very well. This final book, The Grave Doug Freshley has always had the potential to POP for us, and I'm more optimistic about that after seeing the response.

I saw a number of people I knew, and met some new ones... you never know what can come from these things, nothing most of the time, but then it can't all happen or you'd be overwhelmed. If a few connections develop into something, that's serendipity. But it only comes from making the effort.

One possibility was a tentative invitation to come to Brasil as a guest of Rio ComicCon Int'l. It probably won't happen... most likely the contact will go home and come to his senses, but how cool if it does!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Comics Review; Echoes

Went to WonderCon over the last week end. I didn't really do any shopping, but I picked up to promo comics from Archaia. Cyclops #2 from Jacomon & Matz, the folks who brought you The Killer didn't quite hit the spot for me, but the craftsmanship was impeccable. No reason for you not to like it.

I picked up the third issue of another title and anymore than this is best left unsaid. OK I will say this... there was product placement (bad enough) and it was so screamingly poorly handled, that I wasn't sure if the writer was completely incompetent, or it was a fuck you for being forced to include it.

What was good, very good, were the first four issues of Echoes (Minotaur/Topcow) by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal. I think they pitch it as a crime book, but for me it is crime slipping into horror. The pitch? A man learns that his recently deceased father was serial killer, and then the crimes start again. Is he doing it? The man has schizophrenia, as his father did, but he is managing it with meds. Or is he? By the time the big plot twist arrives at the end of issue four (of five), I'm not sure if its real or imaginary. Doubt is everywhere.

Ekedal's art is outstanding in black and white and gray all over. His drawing is naturalistic, and appropriately detailed where it needs to be, and his mastery of washes and tones is a master class.

Its not a particularly comfortable world to visit, and that's very much to Fialkov and Ekedal's credit. Bravo!