In a complete turnaround from last year’s slim pickings, this year was full of GREAT music!
Run the Jewels 2
Killer Mike and El-P have done it again. This follow up to their last collaboration hits hard. The fantastic production and infectious rhymes of El-P are matched perfectly with the powerfully prophetic lyrics of Killer Mike. I was fortunate enough to see these gents perform live a few weeks ago and they were amazing. These are two very talented guys at the top of their game, clearly having a hell of a time making music. Lucky for us, we get to hear it for FREE.
Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden
I cheated and put Pallbearer’s first album on favorites list last year. I was pumped for the release of their second album this year. They did not disappoint. The album’s production is a bit more slick, but doesn’t lose the raw low doom feel they had on the first record. The vocals are much more consistent and powerful. The lead guitar parts are haunting and beautiful. Each song has a rise and fall, stretching out to almost 8-10 minutes for each track. When I listen to the record, I feel like I’ve been taken on a journey. I love that. Also saw them live and they blew me away.
Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband
Little Dragon is back with their signature hypno-pop-soul sound. I have to admit, I am absolutely in love with lead singer Yukimi Nagano. And how can one NOT be with that amazing voice of hers? This record is a little less consistent in tone than the last, but still features some catchy and fun tunes like “Klapp Klapp” and “Paris” mixed in with chill electronic tracks. Good stuff for the commute.
Helms Alee, Sleepwalking Sailors
I first discovered Helms Alee when I saw them live earlier this year. The absolutely blew me away with their unique heavy sound. I was particularly struck by the drumming of Hozoji Margullis (who I also have to admit having a crush on). All three members of the band contribute to the vocals, giving extra layers of harmony to songs and adding to the overall depth of the record. The wall of sound guitars are balanced great with the thumping rhythm section. Juicy heavy stuff.
Future Islands, Singles
Future Islands had been slowing growing on me over time, but this record really cemented my opinion of them. This is definitely their most pop-y record (probably why it’s called singles), with SUPER catchy hooks and driving beats. The weirdo vocals of Samuel T. Herring are definitely the highlight. He was described by a friend of mine as sounding like a ‘robot vampire’. I think that’s cool.
Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun
It’s a new Mastodon record. Is there anything else you need to know?
And that about wraps it up! One last thing I’ll mention is that I did watch one of the movies on the ‘hadn’t seen it yet’ list. Under the Skin. I thought it was fantastic, haunting, and beautiful. So I’m retroactively popping that on my favorite movies list as well.
Happy holidays ya’ll!
Part 2 of my Favorite Things of 2014 list. MOVIES. It was a decent year for movies, with some big stand-outs for me. I missed quite a few I wanted to see this year, like The Guest, Fury, Nightcrawler, Birdman, Locke, & Foxcatcher. Next year I’ll catch up. But on to the list!
The Raid 2: Berandal
Wow. Wow wow WOW. Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans are here to save action films! The original Raid was a perfect blend of simple concept and tight execution, taking the viewer on a brutal ride. The Raid 2 is definitely a larger film in scope and staging of the fight scenes. Although some claimed the film is a bit bloated with dialogue scenes, I found the story to be a neat twist on gangster movie tropes, with some nice performances. Honestly though, the film could have been people talking like chickens whenever there were no fights happening and I’d still have loved it. Gareth Evans brings back that feeling from older Hong Kong films of really pushing the limits of what you can do when filming action scenes. He utilizes really long takes, insane camera movements, and super tight editing that builds as the film progresses. When you finally arrive at the final knife fight, you think you’re ready for what awaits you. Then you experience one of the most brutal and amazing fight scenes ever committed to film. Iko and Gareth are 3 for 3 in my opinion and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next.
Otomo is back! One of my favorite animated films is Memories, which featured 3 Katsuhiro Otomo stories adapted by himself and 2 other directors. Short Peace is a similar anthology style film, with Otomo’s works being adapted by others. Otomo directs one portion of the film, which takes place in feudal Japan. His use of movement and references to Japanese scrolls pulls the viewer in to the chaos of a huge fire. The other stories are also very well-done, with a huge variety of styles on display. I was initially a bit turned off by the use of CG in “Posessions” and “Gambo”, but quickly adjusted and was sucked in. “Gambo” features a monster fight akin to the ending battle in BPRD: The Long Death, illustrated by James Harren. Two beastly titans duking it out. Any fan of animation should definitely give this a look, as it displays a diversity of styles from masters of animation at the top of their game.
Edge of Tomorrow
I had pretty much given up on Tom Cruise scifi movies. I was so glad I gave this one a shot. It’s funny, has great action, interesting design work, and Emily Blunt is BAD ASS. Christopher McQuarrie’s writing is surely responsible for many of the successes of Edge of Tomorrow though. He takes a concept that could easily become tiresome and (literally) repetitive and uses it to elevate the dramatic and comedic impact of the film. The pacing and impact of character moments really elevate it above the cute concept. Unfortunately, the ending is complete american sci-fi film cop-out material, but I can forgive that.
All the dudes are making their ‘tough guy revenge movie’ these days. From the new Die Hard movies, to Taken, to 3 Days to Kill, to (cringe) The November Man. But John Wick gets it RIGHT. I felt like I was watching Raw Deal or Above the Law. Say what you will about Keanu, but he’s got the chops (literally) for this part. Many of the modern ‘tough guy’ movies rely on some annoying camera and editing work (cough-JasonBourne-cough) to take the place of real punching. Keanu is certainly no Iko Uwais, but he’s a long way from Kevin Costner. At the end of the day, I know this is a formulaic revenge movie in a long line of revenge movies. Just like a burger is always a burger. But damned if there ain’t some burgers that are perfection from first bite to last.
It’s a lot of fun to see the plans madman Jodorowsky had for Dune. It represents a moment in time where you had a lot of amazing artists involved in something ambitious and crazy. And these artists would almost all go on to work on movies and comics that represent a sea-change in the art-forms. Don’t get me wrong, Jodorowsky is completely insane, but the inspiration and life he exudes is infectious. Watch this movie and try NOT to go make art. It’s impossible.
This movie is bananas. Lots of fun little touches in the midst of over-the-top everything else. Well made and a blast to watch. For me, this is what I’d call a good ‘popcorn movie’.
Honorable Mentions: Big Hero 6, VHS: Viral
Next post will cover music. To see my favorite comics just look HERE.
Here we are again, another year of comics, movies, and music to inspire! As in Years Past, I like to compile a list of some of the art that I enjoyed throughout the year. It’s a good reminder for me to remember what inspires me, but also a chance to share great stuff with others. I found that this year’s list got pretty big, so I am dividing it up into 3 parts: Comics, Movies, & Music. Also note, I try not to recycle stuff from previous years, as those lists are still out there to see. Even though many of those things are still awesome (like Space-Mullet & Prophet). Now, of course, I’m going to start with Comics!
The Wrenchies, by Farel Dalrymple
This is a what comics are all about. Farel operates on a different plane with The Wrenchies. The dreamlike storytelling is punctuated by stand-out moments of sadness and introspection. The inked/watercolored art is absolutely gorgeous. I was lucky to catch an exhibition of original pages from the book and was dumb-founded by how good they looked in person. There is no digital trickery here, Farel’s just THAT GOOD. Shea Hennum over at This Is Infamous wrote a great article about Wrenchies that will do the book more justice than I can, so check that out. If Wrenchies doesn’t sweep the Ignatz and Eisner awards, I might lose all faith in comics. GET THE WRENCHIES
Death of a Crow, by Liam Cobb
Pay attention folks. Liam is one to watch. He posted Death of a Crow on His Tumblr and it spread across the net like wildfire. And it’s easy to see why. Wonderfully illustrated and full of symbolism and pathos, it’s a great example of the power of comics. The reader is drawn in and led to think and draw conclusions about the world presented. Liam has done quite a few striking short comics on his tumblr so go dig in.
Ritual #3: Vile Decay, by Malachi Ward
Malachi must be Rod Serling re-incarnated. His scifi/fantasy/speculative fiction has been an invigorating addition to the comics scene for a few years now. Vile Decay really hits on all cylinders. Malachi’s illustrations are detailed, while still maintaining a cartooned iconic feel. Vile Decay explores character relationships through surreal landscapes and violent riots. The limited color palette and spot-on paper decisions all add up to a book with a unique feeling that enhances the themes within. GET VILE DECAY
Half Asleep #2-3, by Beth Hetland & Kyle O’Connell
Beth & Kyle turned comics up to 11 a couple years ago with Cycles, which I loved. Initially, Half Asleep was a hard swallow for me. But as the series has progressed, they have really found their voice. O’Connell’s manic concepts spew forth while Hetland uses the tricks of the comics trade to deftly translate the unreal to real. Characters are expertly developed through their actions rather than drawn out dialogue. On top of that, each book sports artful screen-printed hand-cut covers. I’m really excited to see where these two go with Half Asleep next year. GET HALF ASLEEP
Pax Americana, by Frank Quitely & Grant Morrison
Frank Quitely is an illustration god. He pushes the limits of the medium with each new book, without alienating mainstream sensibilities. I barely have an understanding of what’s happening in this beautiful book, but I will enjoy digging into it and deciphering the puzzle for months to come.
In the Sounds & Seas: Volume 2, by Marnie Galloway
It was a long time coming, but SO worth the wait. Marnie’s work has progressed wonderfully since volume 1. Her illustration style lends itself to the story’s themes of interconnectedness and myth. She has also grown as a panel to panel storyteller, finding clarity in the small moments portrayed, while still including beautiful stylistic flourishes in each drawing. In the Sounds & Seas it not like anything else out right now and it showcases a unique voice in the medium. GET IN THE SOUNDS & SEAS
Gardens of Glass, by Lando
Lando is another example of a creator with a strong voice. Gardens of Glass is a collection of the stories Lando has published through the always trippy scifi collective anthology Decadence Comics. Seeing the stories side by side, you find that Lando has been building not only a style, but almost a complete world-view. Each piece compliments the next, re-inforcing ideas and visual queues. The drawings themselves are beautiful and delicate as well, with clear influences from manga and french comics . Gardens of Glass was published by Breakdown Press, who are also doing super cool stuff with comics. GET GARDENS OF GLASS
Time Capsule #2, Peow Studios
Much like Breakdown & Decadence Comics, Peow is working with immensely talented artists in creating beautiful book objects. Time Capsule is one of the best looking Risograph printed comics I’ve come across to date. The Riso has quickly become a mainstay in indy comics, but no one has quite harnessed the potential of the press like Peow. Featured in this issue are Stathis Tsemberlidis (of Decadence Comics), Wren Mcdonald, and Matt Sheean (regular collaborator with Malachi Ward & Prophet alumni). Stathis and Matt’s pieces stand out to me the most, as they both have less focus on traditional narrative. Stathis shows a figure as it accelerates through time and space, (literally) smashing through touchpoints of human existence. Matt gives us a strange story featuring children in the woods of a new planet. Matt has a way of presenting visual and text information that is almost rhythmic and inseparable from eachother. Love it. GET TIME CAPSULE
Prophet: Strikefile #1-2, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, & The Prophet All Stars
Ok it should be obvious from all my other picks, as well as previous year’s picks, that I’m going to be ALL ABOUT Prophet Strikefile. As with the series itself, Brandon & friends have taken a concept (the sourcebook comic) and elevated it to something a little smarter, a little prettier, and a lot awesome-r.
Ghost Fleet, Don Cates & Daniel Warren Johnson
Don’t get me wrong, Ghost Fleet is amazing. I just have a feeling it’s really going to shine next year. Daniel is an artist on his way up I’m privy to what he’s cooking up in future issues of Ghost Fleet. And Donny’s story is pretty bananas. You need to jump on board now, because Ghost Fleet will blow your mind in 2015.
I’m positive I’ve missed some great books this year. Please let me know what you think I should check out from 2014! I’ll be back soon with Part 2, discussing my favorite movies of the year.
I’ve neglected my poor blog. What’s crazy is that it’s not because stuff has been slow. I feel like I’ve been running a marathon for the last 8 months. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m just gonna ramble here…
The book got printed, delivered, and read by our awesome backers. I’m so proud of the work we did on this book. It was so cool to see the pics our backers took with their copies:
So we did a release party at the amazing Challengers comics and a signing at the cool Graham Crackers Comics.
But we have one more event coming up where you can see us and get a copy of the book! Come see us on October 24th at Quimby’s Bookstore:
We’ll have the book up for sale soon online in both print and digital formats. I promise to do another post when we get that together.
Man, I can’t wait for you all to see the new issue of Victus. It has been a BEAST to get through, but I think it represents a big step in my work and hopefully some really intriguing turns in the story. I’m neck deep in figuring out printing, but once I’ve found the solutions, I’ll put up a pre-order page (with some cool bonuses). For now, here’s some peeks into the book:
I’ve still been doing some fan art for fun. Here’s some Prophet:
And here’s some fanart from Spread, by Justin Jordan & Kyle Strahm:
Sadly, one of the greatest places in Chicago, HOT DOUG’s, has closed. It’s cool, as he chose to close, rather than being forced to because of low sales or rent or some other nonsense. Doug’s was a special place that I frequented since college and always tried to take Chicago visitors to. Doug said some awesome stuff about it in this interview, so Read It.
STUFF I LOVE
I’ve been really inspired by this stuff lately…
Grim Wilkins is doing some really cool stuff in Prophet, but in general rocks. Check him out.
Liam Cobb. Basically, everything Liam does is breathtaking. He’s one to watch.
I finally started reading (for real) Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa manga that my pal Dan let me borrow. It be goooooood.
Speaking of Daniel Warren Johnson… his current storyline of Space-Mullet is his strongest work to date. Get on board now!
That’s all for now. I have a lot more to tell ya’ll, but my computer at home just had a major malfunction, so I’m sneaking this out at work. Let me know how you’re doing out there!
Things have been busy here. Very busy. Most exciting at the moment: I got the proof for the Speculative Relationships anthology that we Kickstarted last month!
INCREDIBLY excited! The books printed and delivered en masse is the next step!
This issue is taking me a bit longer. But… not to brag… but it’s because this is some of my best work yet. I’m really excited about the new things happening in the book and new techniques I’m exploring. Here are some peeks:
I scanned in some stuff from the Katsuhiro Otomo special issue of Brutus Magazine, which my awesome friend from Japan (Rinko Endo) sent me. Some really cool stuff in there:
So amazing. Everything about Otomo mesmerizes me.
I went to Starved Rock this weekend with my fiance’ (oh yeah, I GOT ENGAGED). Here are a few pics:
And I guess you probly wanna see the ring…
I designed the ring in collaboration with the amazing custom jeweler Heather Oleari. I’ll try to do a post about that design process at some point in the near future.
FAN ART & OTHER STUFF
As usual, I’ve been up to my ol’ fan-arti-ing
No, from The Spread
The main character in Reid Psaltis’s Kingdom/Order
And a Simon piece to promote the awesome Cupcake Award
And finally I’ll leave you with a moment of zen. Barry Windsor-Smith’s beautiful colors, accompanied by a new Run The Jewels Track…
Wow. I must admit, I was nervous about this whole Kickstarter thing. But we came, we saw, we GOT FUNDED! Seriously, I couldn’t be happier and more humbled by the amazing support from family, friends, and fans. We even overshot our goal by a bit, so I can actually pay the artists! Thanks to everyone who contributed!
If you missed it, we had tons of podcasts and video interviews we posted throughout the campaign. Now would be a great time to catch up on those if you missed them. I’m really proud of the artist interviews in particular:
I’ll probably do a longer post at some point about the whole process. But right now I just think I need a nap.
Man o’ man… so many conventions! I just finished my last show for the season this last weekend. It was a blast! I picked up so much great work at both TCAF & CAKE. Here is the lowdown:
1. Very Crowded!
2. Awesome excited attendees
4. Easily accessible after-parties
People whose comics rocked me:
1. Now officially my favorite show
3. Best Exhibitor List EVARRRRR!!!
4. EVEN MORE accessible afterparty! SO WELL PLANNED!
5. So many good conversations with other artists I love!
People whose comics rocked me:
It was awesome to get to meet new people and talk to some of my heroes. All in all, a great time!
Been posting stuff up in the twitters and tumblrs. Here’s a snapshot of some things…
And that’s all for now folks!
Woooo! Things have been busy. They still are, so I’ll just get right to it!
I was tagged in a blog tour recently by the amazing Beth Hetland and tasked with doing a post for the “My Writing Process blog tour”, answering 4 questions. Beth had been tagged by the talented Cara Bean before that. Here we go!
1) What am I working on?
Oh man… Ok…
– Victus # 3: This is the newest issue of my sci-fi, metaphysical, religious, relationship comic. It’s almost all pencilled!
– Speculative Relationships: The sci-fi romance comics anthology featuring some of my good pals that we are trying to get funded on Kickstarter (see more on this below). I am doing 2 stories for this, which I just finished yesterday! Oh and I’m co-editor with Scott Kroll.
– Upgrade Soul: I’m inking this amazing sci-fi iPad comic for Ezra Clayton Daniels. It’s a blast!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’d like to think that my work is different in that it’s not tied to the conventions of any one genre. With Victus, I’m attempting to create my own genre, which takes influence from theology, psychology, and theology, but also reflects aspects of sci-fi, action, and romance. I also try to bring in experimental elements which will hopefully expand the restrictions of any genre I work within. I hope that makes sense?
3) Why do I write what I do?
When I start any new project, it is usually because I need a vehicle to explore thoughts, ideas, and feelings I’m having. I usually say that I make comics so that I can understand something better. With my comic Gary, I wanted to gain more insight into how and why a serial killer exists and how that relates to my own experience and place in society. With Victus, I want to explore communication and connections to a larger universal nature. I rarely start writing something with an answer in mind. I write because I have questions.
4) How does your writing process work?
I can’t write scripts. I just can’t do it. I feel that if you’re making comics, you really shouldn’t start with just words or just pictures. So I find the process of writing a script counter-intuitive and out of place when making comics. Generally, I start a comic with random notes and drawings. These will be in sketchbooks, on my phone, on meeting agendas at work, etc. After I have a pretty large log of these ideas, I try to organize them in a google spreadsheet (words/ideas) and folders (drawings). I also start a project specific sketchbook at this point, where I will put all future content related to said project. Then I start zero-ing in on key scenes/images/dialogue and organizing them into some kind of order.
Once I have a vague big-picture of the project, I’ll start the first issue/book. I put together 8.5×11 sheets of paper folded in half and staple them, making a little blank book. Then I start thumb-nailing. As I thumb-nail, I write any words that I have figured out and plug in images from the sketchbook. Once I have maybe… 80% of the book thumb-nailed/written, I’ll start in on the “big”/”final” drawings. I guess what I’m trying to point out here is that I’ll start drawing the final comic with pretty significant gaps in the ‘story’. Since I think of my process as a meditation on an idea, I like to leave room for certain questions to be answered as I work and bring about new content. So I may not have certain lines of dialogue written until I’ve already drawn most of the first issue. I think this helps in cutting down on unnecessary dialogue or images, and figuring out what’s actually important. My writing process really doesn’t stop until I’ve filled in that final word balloon or inked that last line.
SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS KICKSTARTER UPDATE
We have about two weeks left in the Kickstarter campaign for Speculative Relationships! In promotion of the project, we’ve been doing artist interviews and podcast spots. Here’s some o’that:
Scott Kroll Interview
Isabella Rotman Interview
And we’ll have interviews with me, Daniel Warren Johnson, and Mike Manomivibul up next week!
Scott and I were both featured on a couple podcasts too:
We are a little over 60% now, so we still need your help to get this thing funded. Check it OUT!
THINGS FROM MY DRAWING TABLE:
– that’s all for now!