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!
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 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!
Chicago Alternative Comics Expo!
Saturday & Sunday
June 15th – 16th
11am – 6pm
Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted
It’s here! This weekend! Seriously folks, this is going to be an incredible show. I’ll be right here:
I’ll be sharing a table with the always spectacular Beth Hetland. Keep your eyes peeled for other amazing artists exhibiting at CAKE: Kenan Rubenstein, MK Czerwiec, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Sean Dove, Emi Gennis, Lyra Hill, Marnie Galloway, and tons more!!!
If you miss this show, you’re pretty much a loser.
If you come by, mention that you follow the blog and I’ll give you some goodies.
Friday, June 14th (the night before CAKE!) is the opening for Modern Storytellers at Ugly Step Sister Gallery. I’ll be there and hope you can make it too. The show is filled with some amazing artists!
750 S. Union St.
Opening: Friday, June 14th, 6pm – 11pm
Ok friends, You’re almost out of time to reap the benefits of pre-ordering Victus #1. If I get your order before Sunday, June 16th, you can still get a free print of Celeste:
Thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered! I’m humbled by your support. It went miles to helping me get the book finished and pay for the printing. The first round of orders have been shipping out this week, and I’m hoping most of you get them by Monday, June 17th at the latest.
If you’re a local Chicago person, or flying in for the show, CAKE will be the first chance for anyone anywhere to get their hands on the books. I’m very pleased with how they turned out and I can’t wait to share them with you!
I’ll leave you with these gems:
Jack Kirby. Showing his power in the earthly realm yet again.
Darrow and Moebius lighting it up with City on Fire.
I am completely in love with this Barry Windsor-Smith cover for X-men #186
Until next time, keep your ducks in a row. Well… geese.
STUMPTOWN COMICS FEST IS THIS WEEKEND! And guess who will be there? Yep… ME. And if that’s not a good enough reason to visit this amazing fest, might I present Exhibit A:
So as you can see, there is an awesome little block of tables right in the middle of the con (thanks to Neil and Kenan for the map!). I’m in the good company of Neil Brideau, Jack Bracken, Kenan Rubenstein, Reid Psaltis, our old pal Josh Shalek, and some other new friends! And as if THAT isn’t enough, I have a couple other amazing comics colleagues tabling at the show: Beth Hetland & Ezra Clayton Daniels!
Wow… this is going to be an epic weekend of indie comics! If you are anywhere NEAR Portland, you MUST come to the show! Here are some more reasons why you should attend:
I’m premiering a new Simon mini comic that I co-created with my brother.
along with a special treat for anyone who pre-orders issue 1 at the show.
Speaking of Victus:
Some images that have inspired me lately…
I saw Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color. Wow.
Hope some of you can come down to the show this weekend! Mention the blog and I’ll give you a discount on any purchase!
Hey hey hey…
So Con season has officially begun. I’ll be tabling at my first show of the season this weekend, March 1st-3rd at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA.
You can find me with the awesome Josh Shalek at artist alley table S-09:
Josh is the man behind the extremely amusing & poignant Welcome to Falling Rock. I hear he might be premiering some brand new printed comics at this show. I highly recommend you pick one up! I will be filling my part of the table with the complete series of Gary (books 1-3), as well as the Simon Collection, and a new Simon mini comic. I’ll also have some promotional handouts for my new project, Victus. Here’s what the back looks like:
Woops… Did I just announce when the first issue is coming out?
Speaking of Victus, here are some sneak peeks at my progress…
I’m very excited for Emerald City Comicon and I hope you pacific northwesterners can come out to the show! I’ll leave you with a breakfast moment of zen, courtesy of Walker Brothers Original Pancake house…