Back again for a quick post.
Here are a few more looks at my bookshelf (or ‘shelfie’ I guess it’s called?)
Some of my proudest acquisitions on these shelves would have to be 2 of Katsuhiro Otomo’s short story collections (SOS and Memories), Visions of Arzach, Moebius’ 40 Days Dans Le Desert, In the Studio, the Hellshock collection, Stranger in a Strange Land… ugh.. honestly I love all this stuff!
What’s on YOUR shelf?
So it’s official, I’ve announced the anthology I’ve been putting together with Scott Kroll. It’s is a science fiction romance comics anthology called Speculative Relationships (get it?). We are really excited about it! Here is the cover image:
by the amazing Mike Manomivibul.
It will feature new stories by:
and of course ME.
We are planning to gain funds for printing via Kickstarter! So please keep up with the project on tumblr and twitter:
I’m sure I’ll bug ya’ll about it more as the Kickstarter approaches!
Work work work all the time
So here is what I’ve been up to…
You know I can’t get enough Prophet/Yilala. What I wouldn’t give to just get ONE PAGE in that Prophet: Strikefile book.
Work has been excessively sucky lately. So I put my feet up and watched the Thundercats intro. It helped. A little.
The Raid 2 is one of the best things ever on the planet. Do anything you can to go see it NOW. I’ve been twice so far and count on at least one viewing in the theatre.
Thanks for playing along at home! Is anyone keeping score?
Or more appropriately, what’s on MY bookshelf. Recently I’ve been doing some interviews with some of my favorite artist pals (like Scott Kroll, Daniel Warren Johnson, & Isabella Rotman) and it’s always fun to see what’s on people’s bookshelves. They are a little window into a person’s influences and loves. So I thought I’d post a little look at my bookshelf over the next few posts.
Lotta special books for me up there. Some Chris Ware, H.R. Giger, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson. A little Frank Miller, Karl Wirsum, Geof Darrow, and Vania. And of course, my top shelf HAS to include some Katsuhiro Otomo (he’ll make appearances on every shelf) and Bill Watterson. So happy to have these books!
What’s on YOUR bookshelf? I’d love to know.
BACK ISSUES PODCAST: CABLE
Justin and I recorded a new episode of Back Issues, where we discuss everyone’s favorite time-traveling, gun-toting, metal arm-having, telekenisis spittin mutant… CABLE. We took a look at 3 different era’s of Cable (Liefeld’s X-force, Soldier X, and Cable & the X-Force), to try and make sense of Justin’s favorite marvel character. We had a great discussion for your listening pleasure:
And here’s a peak behind the secret passageway into the In This Issue Podcast studios!
That’s all for now folks!
Oh man… it’s been a while. I’m sorry ya’ll. I promise it’s cuz things have been crazy busy in the best ways possible. I’m excited to tell you more, but still have to keep some of it secret. But teasing…
- Convention Schedule
- Inking one of my favorite sci-fi comics?
- Art show???
- Pin-up for (insert secret publisher name)?!
- A Kickstarter?!?!
More info on the way for all that. But for now, I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain on my recent Brain Frame Performance. Onward!
BRAIN FRAME PROCESS
So, last month I had the honor of performing at Chicago’s famous comics-performance-experiment-wacky-fun-amazing Brain Frame series. When I was asked by organizer, Lyra Hill, I was equally excited and terrified. I felt pressure to do a good job, since the show has such a rich history of awesome performers. I also wanted to try something new for me and different from other performances I’d seen. I came up with some criteria that I wanted my piece to meet:
- No video projection (I’m actually sick of video projection in all art right now)
- Must have music
- No talking
- Must have live drawing
- Must have audience interaction
Lyra had specifically requested that I do a reading featuring my experimental style work, which usually means Simon. He’s my default for experiments in comics, so I was happy to oblige.
My initial thought was to do a whole piece that was live drawing. I pretty quickly realized that would be a limiting in both scale and detail. I wanted the piece to have the impact that comes from large scale drawings. So I figured I’d have pre-drawn images and focus on how drawings can change via additions, subtractions and paper folding.
So, the piece bounced around in my head for a month or two (Lyra graciously gave me tons of time to create my piece) and I’d do sketches or fold paper in random ways to see how it looked. Finally I started sketching the actual piece on paper and figuring out the sequencing. As for theme… It sort of comes to me AS I’m drawing with Simon. I’ll have a thought, then I develop that as I sketch. It’s kinda like having a conversation with someone to solve a problem or come to an understanding. But I’m having that conversation between my brain and hand and paper. As this Simon comics developed, it became about what it means to feel, think, reflect, and share with the world. Basically, it’s a piece about what art is to me.
The sketching process was a great way to start figuring out which sections would be folded paper, live drawings, or ‘paste downs’ (though no paste would be involved). As I figured out Simon’s progression through the piece, more and more challenges became apparent. The hard part became what would I cut or alter from the piece to make it manageable on the large scale I had planned. Lyra had also thrown a curveball in about halfway through the planning process: there would be two performances on the same night! This was exciting news, but also meant if the performance would have to work two times, meaning I’d have to not damage it and couldn’t do live drawings over pre-drawn images unless I wanted to draw them twice. Honestly, I like having challenges, so this was… good news?
I wanted this to be big enough that people in the back of the venue could still see it, but not so big that I needed an assistant. The size I landed on was 4 1/2 feet wide by 4 feet tall. This was still… really big. Moving this beast around is not easy.
It’s still sitting in my living room because I don’t know where to put it. Once I knew the size, I could buy paper and start drawing the ‘finished drawings’. Which I knew would take a while. So before I started, I wanted to get my music sorted out.
Initially I thought I could just piece together something on my own from tracks I liked. I also have a small synth and thought that might work. I quickly saw that this was A. too much work, B. would take time away from drawing, and C. would make it hard to adjust during the performance if something went wrong. Plus I was interested to hear what a musician would bring to my images. Luckily I work with the extremely talented guitarist Chad Nannenga. Chad has played with some awesome bands like the Fabulous Naturals & Merle the Mule. I gave Chad all the sketches in a powerpoint presentation so he could see the flow that would eventually happen from image to image. We talked a bit and I gave ideas about what mood I wanted each section to have. This was very broad (“this part should be exploratory, this part should be sad”). I also provided some tracks that I wanted him to reference or try and emulate (but not copy). Things like :
Then he just ran with it. We met a few weeks later and he had a string of riffs for me to hear. I gave him feedback on what I liked and didn’t so he could make adjustments. Shortly after that we met with drawings and guitar in hand and started to really knock out which riffs fit which drawings. Then figure out how to accent each section with effects pedals and how to transition from one major section to another. We came up with cute nicknames for the riffs, so we could tell them apart. Things like ‘chickin pickin’ and ‘radiohead riff’. After that it was just up to me to finish drawing all the dang pages, while Chad practiced the music and transitions.
For those curious about Chad’s gear, he was playing a Fender Jazzmaster guitar. He used a Line 6 DL4 for looping and another delay pedal for the textures. All this was fed into a classic Vox Pathfinder amp.
Since the drawings were so large, I used large 70#-90# paper, purchased on rolls. Since it was rolled, I had to flatten each section after I cut it. So often-times my dining room was occupied by big sheets of paper on the floor covered in heavy books. Actually, as an artist you find sections of your house taken over by projects often. You get used to it, I guess.
I used a video projector (yeah yeah, I know I said I wasn’t gonna use one, but I meant in the performance) to up-scale my rough sketches and keep proportions. Then I put the drawings on the floor and fleshed them out more. I was drawing with Sakura Permopaque black markers for my black lines. Originally, I was going to use Fatty Sharpies. But there are a lot of parts where pages have to fold, and the Sharpies were bleeding through. I actually tried a ton of different markers and paper stocks, but Sakura was the only brand that didn’t bleed through. I did have to use a different marker type for color, as I could only find black and white Sakuras. I ended up using the Blick brand art markers. Which… absolutely suck. I could barely get one page colored before they ran out. I ended up buying like 15, as I was afraid changing brands would produce a noticeable change in the color. And of course, they bled through. So on pages with images on the back of the paper, I had to paint white over the bleed through. It was kind of a pain. Next time I’d probably try a thicker paper ($$$) or use pastels (though that would be messy).
Once most of the drawings were complete, Chad and I began practicing with the large drawings and music together. This is where all the kinks were worked out. Things like how I’d attach the paste downs (ended up using good ol’ “tack stuff”) and how Chad would transition his effects from section to section.
I think in total we did about 4 run-throughs, including one on the morning of the show.
The Brain Frame Crew of Brad, Emma, and Lyra were extremely helpful and positive during the whole set-up process. We were at Constellation, which is a very cool venue. Intimate, but not small.
Chad and I chose to appear in all black, to let the Piece be the focus of the show, rather than our kooky outfits. I, of course, had to wear my Adidas shell toes, as that is where my magical powers come from.
The performance climax is me reaching inside the final drawing, and pulling out small paper cubes to throw into the audience. This was challenging to find a solution for. I didn’t want to use objects that were too solid or heavy, as they could potentially hurt someone. But if they were too insubstantial, they wouldn’t be ‘throw-able’ and it would just look sad when I tried to pitch them out there. I decided to try paper cubes, as they are cheap (I had already spent a lot of money on this) and they mimicked the paper being used in the rest of the performance. The problem with these was, of course, they are too light and would fly far. I tried different paper stocks, but nothing really worked.
Then my beautiful, amazing, intelligent girlfriend came up with a solution. She is a jeweler and she had a bag of metal shot (tiny metal balls). She suggested putting one or two inside the cubes. We tried this out to ensure they’d fly far enough and not hurt anyone. I actually threw cubes at her face and she told me if it hurt or not. Yes, that is how I said thank you. We filled about half the cubes with metal and left some unfilled so they would ‘float’ more and stay in the front row.
After the second performance, Lyra actually ATE one of the cubes as we cleared the stage. This was awesome, but had me worried she had eaten metal. Luckily, she had not eaten a metal filled cube. She assured me after a few days that “everything came out ok”.
Documenting your work is incredibly important. I work at an art school and that’s the main thing I try to make clear to every student I talk to. If you don’t document your work, it didn’t happen and doesn’t exist. Luckily, Brain Frame has an awesome photographer and videographers. That’s where I got most of the images in here, as well as one of the videos below. So, take a look at my performance! It’s 16-ish minutes, but please watch till the end for the exciting conclusion.
Thanks to Gillian Fry for the awesome photos.
This video was of the 1st performance and shot by Kyle O’Connell
This is the official Brain Frame video of the 2nd performance. Thanks to Jack Wensel, Cooper Collier, Cody Wallace, & Tyson Torstensen.
Hope you found my rant about creating this piece interesting. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. Transporting and storing this giant project was also a huge challenge, but that’s probably less interesting. So I’ll end it here for now. I’ll leave you with some images of other stuff I’ve been working on lately:
Piece to you!
Hey ladies and gents!
Some announcements and the like:
First up, I am stoked to be performing next Saturday in the world-famous Brain Frame series! I’ll be debuting a brand new Simon comic titled “Piece”, which will only exist as a performance.
Saturday, January 25th
7pm (all ages) & 10pm (cash bar)
3111 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Tickets are available HERE and I strongly recommend purchasing in advance, as Brain Frame tends to sell out. Hope to see you all there!
CONVENTIONS 2014, part 1
It’s that time again… the time when comic artists apply for conventions far and wide. It’s nerve-racking and filled with crossed fingers and budgeting. Although I haven’t heard back from all the shows applied to, I wanted to let folks know places I’m already confirmed for:
Conaway Center at Columbia College
1104 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL
Always an awesome show, made even awesome-er by the fact that it’s FREE to attend! My Chicago peeps have no excuse to miss this show.
Ramada Hotel & Conference Center
4900 Sinclair Rd, Columbus, OH
This is my first time doing SPACE and I hope some of ya’ll can make it out to Columbus, OH to say hi! I may be presenting a couple panels as well (more on that later)
South Building at McCormick Place
I’ll be tabling with rising star Daniel Warren Johnson in artist alley. This show is always crazy big big and fun.
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St, Toronto, Canada
I’ve heard amazing things about TCAF, and this is my first time exhibiting there. The show already has a who’s-who list of artists, so this could be one of the best of the year!
… That’s all for the conventions for now. Hopefully I’ll have one or two more to announce soon. It’d be great to see you all at one or two of these shows!
Stuff I’m looking at lately..
I re-read Jan’s Atomic Heart by the always interesting Simon Roy. This is finally getting a bigger release from Image as part of a collection of Roy’s short stories. Highly recommended for fan’s of sci-fi.
Also re-read Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100, as a study in portraying action and chase scenes in comics. Good stuff.
Along with Pope’s work, I’ve been spending some time with Blade of the Immortal. Samura’s action sequences are at times non-sensical, but give a visceral impression of the action that almost transcends the actual geography of the fight.
Finally got my Riddick blu-ray. Man this is just a super-fun sci-fi movie with lots of fun ideas and characters.
More to come folks!
It’s that time again! Time to rave about the art & media that knocked my socks off this year. A few of my picks from last year continued to be great this year, like Brandon Graham & Crew’s Prophet or Daniel Warren Johnson’s Space-Mullet. But I’ll refrain from repeating myself and just say; hey everything from last year’s list is still awesome. Go see that list:
And now on to 2013…
Haunter, by Sam Alden
I hate this guy. He’s just too darn good. What’s great about Sam Alden is that he doesn’t run to one or two areas of comfort when making comics. His body of work is extremely varied in genre, style, and execution. The comics world pretty much agrees he’s one to watch, so I’ll just leave it at that. My favorite thing I’ve seen from him so far is Haunter, which was released on the great Study Group Comics website. It follows a hunter as she discovers ancient ruins and confronts what lurks within. It’s brave use of color, lack of dialogue, kinetic motion, and sense of tension really clicked with me.
Kingdom/Order, by Reid Psaltis
This is an example of an artist really hitting his mark. Reid has long been exploring comics with a focus on illustrating the animal kingdom and hints of man’s struggle with and within the natural world. I absolutely love all of his previous work, but it never coalesced as well before as it does in Kingdom/Order. Again, this is brought to us by the wonderful folks over at Study Group Comics (geez what’s a guy gotta do to get on this awesome site?). Reid’s illustrations have a wonderful sense of weight and light/dark. There is a beautiful simple accuracy in his representations of animals, juxtaposed with extreme pathos in the main human figure. While reading Kingdom/Order you feel that man is the foreigner in the animal world, but he is also no more at home in modern cities. And Oh my Lord the word balloons! Animals are given sound by shape iconography. It’s a stroke of genius (or genus?) from the artist. I’m extremely excited to see where Reid takes us as this story continues. Follow it for FREE at Study Group Comics.
Shaolin Cowboy, by Geof Darrow
Geof Darrow is absolutely fantastic in every sense of the word. I think we are up to issue 3 of this series and there has been about 4 lines of dialogue and 500 zombie deaths by dual chainsaw staff. Full page spreads populate each issue, detailing the pandemonium of the Cowboy’s battle while sound effects buzzzzz and the fuel gauge of the chainsaw slowly empties. This is the kind of exploratory and brave piece normally only seen in self-published comics these days. Bravo to Geof and bravo to Dark Horse for printing it!
The Private Eye, by Brian K. Vaughn & Marcos Martin
Man, what a great idea. Format a book for the iPad, release it digital, and let folks pay what they want for it. Include special features like a making-of issue and Q&A at the end of every issue. Add to that Marcos Martin’s kinetic art and a very relevant sci-fi story and then try and stop me from throwing my money at you. This series follows a private investigator in a world where the ‘information cloud’ has popped. People value their privacy above all else, wearing masks everywhere they go. This work is full of small touches that comment on the world as it is now, while also giving us a compelling character in the P.I. Go give them your money now!
Battling Boy, by Paul Pope
Here is another book that’s sure to be on everyone’s list, so I’ll avoid waxing eloquent too much. At this point, if you don’t know who Paul Pope is and you don’t understand his magic, I really have no hope for you. This book is basically Paul emulating Jack Kirby’s fourth world. If that’s not the greatest elevator pitch of the year, I don’t know what is.
Dumb, by Georgia Webber
I met Georgia at C.A.K.E this year. That show was full of some of my favorite artists, but Georgia’s work really stood out. She has a style that reminded me of my old favorite Anders Nilsen. The book is an autobiographical account of Georgia’s loss of her voice and how it has affected her life. The overall design of the project is simply and stunning. Georgia makes some very good decisions at every step of the way, from her use of red word balloons to the text of months breaking the panel borders to the perfect double page spread Each choice serves to enhance the themes in the book, giving the reader easy access to the experience. You really need to check it out.
Tiger Beat Exclusive, by Gina Wynbrandt
Oh you don’t know Gina? She’s only the funniest comics artist working right now. Go read about her creepy obsession with Justin Bieber, bizarre Kardashian beauty advice, and general lampooning of teen culture and I guarantee you’ll get rock hard abs from the ensuing laughter. In all seriousness, Gina has tapped into a form of humor reminiscent of Tim & Eric, with a little Michael Kupperman thrown in. Instead of being joke-y, Gina gives you a peak into a character’s inner monologue, exposing the ridiculous thoughts that permeate her head. I rarely laugh out loud when reading a comic, but her work has me rolling every time. She is one to watch.
This is the kind of film that defies definition and description. It hits you in much the same way as Terrence Malick’s work, in that you are left with an impression more than a story. The feeling you get from the film supersedes any simple narrative. That’s not to say there is no story in this film, because there is. But you feel more like you’re experiencing the characters’ stream of consciousness. It helps that the film is beautifully shot, with a near perfect soundtrack. It’s a challenging film and really benefits from repeat viewings. It’s on Netflix so you have no excuses… watch it!
Don Coscarelli reminds of the awesome indie comics artists I know. He has a sensibility that is always on the fringe, with influence and collaborations that push his work further with each iteration. Rarely does a movie come a long these days that truly ‘has everything’ and is as crazy as this film. I’m not even sure how to describe it… Hm… I guess it’s about two guys whose exposure to a drug called soy sauce leads them on an adventure though dimensions in which the fate of the world hangs in the balance? IDK. The pure invention and breadth of ideas present in John Dies is impressive and admirable. Plus it’s extremely funny and well acted. The source material by David Wong is even more far-reaching, but the film does well in cutting it into something that gives the impression of a larger world full of insanity.
Vin Diesel crashes his car into the railing of a bridge going in the opposite direction as a hijacked tank on which his amnesiac ex-girlfriend is perched but that tank is also being flipped by a cable that is anchored by a crushed car, which sends the amnesiac girlfriend fliying through the air only to be caught mid air by Vin Diesel who was launched from his crashed car over the gap between suspended highways, then the two land on a car’s windshield which breaks their fall as the tank flips over incapacitating the villain who has attempted to steal the final component to a doomsday device. In the first one they stole dvd players. I love these films.
Giant robots fighting giant monsters from another dimension. and Ron Perlman. DUH I loved this movie. Del Toro is really the devil in the details. He injects fun ideas and homages into everything from the costumes to the sets to the fight scenes. This film is a beautiful bombastic special effects extravaganza.
Ok now this is for real… I think Riddick is one of the few rays of hope in the sci-fi film landscape these days. We are seeing a lot of sci-fi movies, but many of them are devoid of invention, attitude, or actual science fiction. Riddick takes the character back to an (almost identical) situation as Pitch Black. You see him surviving alone and injured on an alien planet for the first 30 minutes of the film, in what is one of the coolest openings in recent memory. It lives in the same world as the Prophet comics, as a ‘Conan in Space’. Riddick is the character that Vin Diesel was born to play, and he seems to put more effort into his portrayal than you see in other films (FF included). The film feels small, but gives you a sense of a large, imaginative sci-fi landscape. It’s full of tough guys, crazy monsters, and bad-assery.
I was very surprised by You’re Next. I went in unaware of the film’s background. Once the credits rolled though, it all made sense. There is a group of filmmakers trying to keep horror scrappy and relevant. Like Adam Wingard and Ti West. While not all of their films have worked perfectly, this one hits on all cylinders. It has new takes on genre staples and presents interesting and graphic murders that you would expect. But the characters are for the most part unlikable and awkward, leading to humor throughout. And I mean this in a good way. There is very little in the characters that could be seen as conventional, but a lot that can be seen as real. Seeing a horror film that presents a unique (and perhaps more realistic?) vision of how people behave in horrific situations is long overdue.
I’m kicking myself for not seeing this in the theatre. It is absolutely gorgeous. And not due to Ryan Gosling’s appearance. Refn shows us a not-unfamiliar Thailand, but it’s almost like a fresh look on what we understand to be the world of Bangkok. Many scenes play quietly, as if the whole film is taking place in the early hours of the morning or in the day time after a night of heavy drinking. We are presented with characters whose actions reveal their morals and goals slowly as the film progresses. It’s not until the final 20 minutes that you feel you really understand where everyone is coming from. This makes the film somewhat laborious to watch (that is, if you can’t appreciate the gorgeous visuals), but the overall sense you get calls into question vigilantism, colonialism, and loyalty. Oh and it has a karaoke singing, machete wielding, vigilante.
I have to say music was a little slimmer pickin’s for me this year. So there is one cheat on here…
Run the Jewels (Killer Mike & El-P)
These two gents both had albums on my list last year, so it’s probably obvious that their collaboration this year would make my list. But two good things don’t always combine for something great (Like when Ozzy & Miss Piggy got together). Luckily, Mike and El are in top form as Run the Jewels. This record hits hard and fast. Featuring some of El-P’s heavy sci-fi influenced production and Mike’s vocal passion, there isn’t a thow-away track on the entire album. The record plays fun and energetic, but not devoid of truth. Seems like two talented, earnest musicians having a good time.
Sorrow & Extinction, Pallbearer
Ok so this is the cheat. I must admit that I was not aware of this album until this year, although technically it was released last year. But dude…. this album is so heavy and perfect I had to mention it. I was immediately reminded of Sleep’s epic Dopesmoker while listening to Sorrow & Extinction. The album is 5 epic tracks, running from 8-12 minutes each. While firmly planted in the doom-metal genre, Pallbearer’s slow riffs are peppered with beautiful melodies and moments of transcendent peace. The vocals really shine, as the lead singer’s voice is honest and strains for notes occasionally. This mirrors dark and sad lyrics which guide the listener on a journey of mourning. This has officially becoming my ‘music to ink by’ while making comics.
Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails
Trent has again evolved on this record. You can hear the influences of his film score work with Atticus Ross and his collaboration with his wife on How to Destroy Angels (worst band name ever, BTW). The majority of the songs have an electronic feel and are very digestible. It’s a safe record in the overall sense of popular music, but a bit of a departure from NIN’s earlier records. I was most struck by the lyrics. This is the most hopeful I’ve heard in Trent’s lyrics… and I kinda like it. He’s old now. I’m getting old. Let’s stop whining but keep making music.
Old, Danny Brown
Danny Brown is a love him or hate him rapper. His lyrics are extremely offensive at times and his vocal styling is somewhat of an assault on the ears. I obviously love it. While Danny does rap about (lots) of drug use and (LOTS) of sex, it has a reality to it which lacks in most rap. What I mean is that he doesn’t seem to use these topics as some way of bragging or status symbols. When he raps about the debauchery of his life, it’s more like an admission of his twisted state of being. That being said, Old is REALLY a fun listen from a musical standpoint. Brown changes his vocal styling a little more sporadically on Old than he did on XXX. The production is very tight, with beats influenced by dub-step, chip tunes, and even soul music.
I hope this list intrigues and confuses you. I can’t help it but I like variety and I hope you do too. If you aren’t in to one of my picks, please don’t let that stop you from looking into another one of them.
What are your picks from 2013?
Hey hey, the day has finally come… Victus #2 is ready for public consumption! I’m really stoked about this second issue and I hope you are too. As with last time, I have some special bonus’s so read on…
The Story Continues:
Isaac continues gathering artifacts for Absalom, while also working with Alphonse and Dom to mark the city. A local religious group worships together at a cathedral under watchful eyes. Children are frightened by a strange creature seen near Absalom’s shop. Isaac witnesses a shocking event while spying on Absalom.
More product images HERE
I also have a 5 page preview of the story HERE
All orders placed by 12/20/13 will receive a free 8.5″ x 11″ print:
As before, the first 10 pre-orders will receive pages ripped straight from my Victus sketchbooks…
So, what are you waiting for?
And while you’re over at the store, you can also order the newest Simon mini comic:
This is the second collaboration between my brother Logan and I. The initial print-run is EXTREMELY limited, so go get yours now:
Thanks for all your patience as I worked to complete the second issue of Victus. I am very proud of the work and I think you’ll find it to be worth the wait. More news to come next week!