I’m back. Been busy with some stuff.
I ran a kickstarter for Speculative Relationships: Volume 2 with my pal Scott Kroll. We got funded! Here’s what it looks like:
We have some super awesome contributors in this one. Each artist is on their way to having amazing careers making comics and they all turned in mind-blowing stories. I’m so proud of the team and proud to say we have an amazing diverse group of creators telling unique heart-felt stories. There is a lot of scifi out there right now, which is great. But… A lot of it tends to fall into some of the same old tropes. Even the best stuff tends to focus on dudes fighting bad aliens or robots. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is fine (I mean, Predator is one of my all-time favorite movies). But I feel pretty strongly that when a genre is en vogue, it’s important to take advantage of that to showcase ideas and creators that are under-represented within it. To that point, Isabella Rotman and I talked about diversity in comics a bit in this interview for Speculative Relationships:
I also really loved this thing that Ben Passmore (one of our contributors) posted:
I’m not a huge reader of Sci-fi or speculative fiction, in part because much of what I’ve come across is a thinly veiled narrative supporting some of the oldest oppressive ideas (colonialism, magic white dudes, ect.). Chunky young brown Ben wasn’t super into that, not because of some deep political analysis, but because I felt expected to be a magical white guy and that stressed me out. The comics in this anthology stray from this, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, and it’s totally worth it for there to be narratives that are different in the word so that little chunky brown kids are less stressed.
We also did a bunch of interviews to promote the book. You can check them out here:
I feel really good about the results in the book and I can’t wait to get it into more hands once we finalize the printing.
I’ve done a few different things for some things. Here’s the line art for a pinup I did for Image Comics Dark Engine:
Which should be out soon-ish? And the final is in color.
And here’s a sneak peek at a secret thing I did for a new Dark Horse book by Donny Cates & Eliot Rahal:
I’m in another show at Third Coast Comics in Chicago this weekend. The show is themed ‘bad guys’ so I had to do an Apocalypse for that:
Here’s a logo I designed for the title page of Aaron Pittman’s cool scifi webcomic Grimfish (which you should read):
Somewhere in the last couple months I also did some Luther Strode fan art for fun:
VICTUS & KINSHIP
I haven’t forgotten about Victus and I assure you, the 4th issue is coming. Here’s some early sketching for the cover design:
I am posting 1 page from the series per week on my tumblr, to lead up to the release of #4. So if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out there. Issues 1-3 are still for sale in my store as well.
Kinship is a project I haven’t talked about much yet. It’s a comic I’m writing with my brother Logan, and the incredibly talented Drew Alderfer is drawing it. We are putting together samples for a pitch. The series follows a group of native americans in the early 1600’s, who have to defend their village from a group of foreign bandits. We are taking a lot of queues from Seven Samurai and it’s really shaping up to be something special. Here’s a couple of Drew’s designs for the main good and bad guys:
I couldn’t be happier with the work Drew is doing and working with my brother on the script has been amazing. We really hope we can find a home for the series! It’s about time we see some native american heroes in comics.
Here’s some stuff that’s inspired me lately:
Tradd Moore is KILLING it on Legacy of Luther Strode
My friend Landis has been working on this book. His hatching is next level.
This Guillaume Singelin Metal Gear thing is drooooollll…
I really liked this new John Vestevich story.
There is a really cool show of woodblock prints from different religions at the Art Institute right now.
The clouds have been perfect in Chicago lately. So I’ve been taking a lot of pics.
I’ll try to get back on the wordpress horse. Thanks for reading!
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 philosophy, 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!
Hello out there!
Well SPX 2013 has come and gone. I’m very glad to have finally participated in this show, after years of hearing about it.
A commission I did for a Hellboy sketchbook (I cheated and did Amazing Screw-On Head)
Original Pancake House w/Josh Shalek (nicest guy in comics)
Everyone was extremely kind in Bathesda, MD. Thanks to everyone who came by the table to say hi and bought some comics!
So… I had the chance to do a nice interview with the folks over at IndieReader.com. We talked a bit about my process, why I make comics, stuff I’m reading, etc. Take a gander:
Thanks to Steve Urena for the fantastic interview questions!
So hey. I finally broke down and did it. I got a Twitter. And a Tumblr. If you are someone who follows those things, please follow me. Be gentle though… I’m new at this.
And some links should be showing up at the bottom of this page now… I think?
MOMENT of ZEN
Thanks ya’ll for reading!
Geez, where did August go?
Sorry for the lack up updates. It’s been a busy month of drawing, work, drawing, concerts, drawing, friends, and drawing. Couple neat things…
9 QUESTIONS WITH MAX MILLER
The extremely talented Max Miller was kind enough to ask me 9 questions on his blog, which I did my best to answer:
Wizard World Chicago has come and gone. Though I think the show itself is not fantastic, I did get a chance to hang with pals Daniel Warren Johnson (Space-Mullet) and Mike Mano (Princess Bride illustrator). It was good times. And I had the fortune of meeting a new artist whose work impressed me a lot:
We had a good chat about Durer, engravings, and medieval art in general. Check his stuff out!
Other than that, I’ve been working on Victus #2 and enjoying the summer. Here is my life in pictures:
Said hi to Hokusai too
Made a couple trips to Doughnut Vault this month… drool…Enjoying the cloudy days in Chicago lately
Thanks for checking in ya’ll! Some new stuff is headed your way next week so come back and visit!
90% of all problems can be solved by staying organized.
I really believe that. It’s worked for me in my professional (aka non-art) life for years, and slowly began seeping into my art-making process significantly when creating Gary. This post is a peak into how I stay organized in my process. Hopefully you can find something helpful within…
Gary, as many of you know, is based on real people & events. Although none of the info in Gary should be seen as facts about any specific event, but I have used the factual information as a starting point for my exploration of the subject matter. Once I started digging into the information out there, I quickly discovered that there is more to take in than I could possibly remember. Of course, some things stuck in my head, but my goal is to form a complete & cohesive piece. So, I started keeping some key areas in mind during research sessions:
People, Places, Events, Dates, Themes, Motifs, Scenes
These areas were a good start for figuring out the arch of the book & what to include. As time goes on, I can further break down these areas into individual pages/drawings. When I started researching the Green River Killer, I quickly saw that I needed to start using a tracking system. Speaking of reference material, here are some of my sources:
Defending Gary: Unraveling the Mind of the Green River Killer, Mark Prothero & Carlton Smith
Green River Serial Killer: Biography of an Unsuspecting Wife, Pennie Morehead
The Search for the Green River Killer, Carlton Smith & Tomas Guillen
Between Good & Evil, Roger L. Depue
Chasing the Devil: My 20 Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer, David Reichert
Gary Ridgway: The Green River Killer, Staff of County (actual court document)
Serial Killers: Issues Explored Through the Green River Murders, Tomas Guillen
River Man: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer, Robert Keppel
There are about 3-4 films about the Green River Killer. Avoid them all as if your life depended on it. Unless you count Riverman (its really more about Ted Bundy), which is worth watching for Cary Elwes’ performance.
My lovely lovely Excel. Where would I be without it? Excel is the most basic, easy, and infinitely adaptable tool for organizing your research. Get it. Learn it. Use it. (And for those of us with day jobs, it makes you look like a superstar just by having it open on your computer). As I research, I put the info into an Excel workbook, giving different topics their own worksheet in the book. *
Trust me, for storing useful information/notes, Excel is 1 million times better than a notebook/sketchbook. Paper is for DRAWING folks! Once the info is in Excel, I can locate it easily & actually USE it for reference. When I put notes in a sketchbook I cannot find them when needed, essentially rendering that research useless.
My Gary workbook is broken into tons of worksheets. Each worksheet is dedicated to a different aspect of the information relevant to me. And each worksheet has it’s own column & row structure.
Some of those worksheets turned out not to be as useful as I’d hoped. ‘Pencils’ & ‘Ink’s tables are a good example. The idea with those was to check-off things as I finished them. This was a technique I brought over from the day job that didn’t really work well for my art making process. They just stressed me out. I tend to jump around in page order and go back and forth between inking & penciling. Other sections, like the list of victims and the ‘comprehensive timeline’, were vital to staying organized. These stored information to be used at a moments notice, rather than putting more pressure on the already slow process of drawing comics.
What you see in the preceeding images are just sections of the spreadsheet. The victim details one in particular is very long & in depth. Fortunately, Excel allows for a LOT of sorting & searching options. As I begin figuring out a scene, I could find the victim, the date they were murdered, details of their death, etc. very easily. Gary visited many sites on multiple occasions & so if I chose to show a location, I could get more info about it simply by sorting by ‘location’. Also, I always try to have a column for ‘random thoughts’. Often in researching books, I’m struck by an idea. It could be a scene, an image, a piece of dialogue, a layout, etc. I make sure to WRITE IT DOWN before my brain dumps the info!
Once the information was logged in the workbook, I was infinitely more productive. I don’t get ‘stuck’ as often. If I am stuck, I have all my thoughts & reference in this wonderful central location. If I can’t figure out how to design a page, I go back to my workbook. If I’m not sure what scene should follow the last, I go back to my workbook. If I’m not sure how to represent a location, I go back to my workbook. The Excel workbook also helps in my editing process, as I do not have a real ‘editor’. When proof-reading, I reference the dates & details from the workbook to make sure I haven’t screwed something up.
Staying organized will keep you more productive, force you to use all the research you’ve done, & foster better ideas.
INTERVIEW WITH PANEL BOUND
So, If you haven’t heard it yet, I had the chance to speak with the folks at Panel Bound about Gary and other stuff comic-related. Check out the audio interview here:
Thanks for the support everyone! Stay tuned for more information next time about CUBE and SIMON prints coming soon for sale!
* Some of the included workbook images were taken a couple months back (can’t show you all the new stuff yet!). Also, this post is not endorsed by Microsoft in any way (hard to believe, I know).