Friday, October 30, 2009

The worst week of sleep

These are the final inks over some pages I did probably 6 montsh ago for my friend. You can get the whole lowdown on DA but I had some of the pencils up here a while ago, here and here
, though they are very faint.

BBA pg. 1 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART

BBA pg. 2 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART

BBA pg. 3 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART

BBA pg. 4 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART

BBA pg. 5 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART

BBA pg. 6 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART
I've plotted out 2 6-issue series I want to do, relating to one another. They have been writing themselves, in my mind, keeping me awake at night. The first time that cliche thing has happened where I actually wake up to write something down because I've figured it out in my sleep. Very excited. Though I might not have much time here real soon as I've been getting some more comic work - but that's a good thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The curse of losing my internet (at home) has actually been a blessing in disguise and I’ve been working very diligently on my comic work. I wrote myself a not that says “this is your job, treat it like one ” above my desk. Working at home the lines between work and leisure can be thin if you let them. But I think I’ve overcome them. Without giving anything away, I’ve stressed making the characters look different from one another instead of basic male/female models w/ different clothes/hair. I’ve also been reworking some of the scenes to imply things/creatively concealing other that just showing it. But its been tricky looking at it and seeing how much the reader has to put together and how crucial it is if the reader skips over it. I’ve also been working very very fast drawing things but my time has been going back and looking at things critically/logically. Making sure that stairs have handrails, corners have trim, doors have frames and hinges etc etc.
Expressions have also been tricky, for this story, for example, I have many close ups with similar expressions but I’ve been working to make them all unique from one another and all different levels of the feeling they are expressing. I’m also doing enough pages now its been especially fun to mess with layouts and look back and know that I haven’t done certain things with layout that I look for places to try it out. Which is making me look for different things when I look at artists, making me see different reasons why I liked certain artists and see through others I thought were good but now I see where they cut corners.
I also just acquired the majority of the second volume of Elementals - which is all written/plotted by Bill Wilmingham, which is good and as the stories progress the artists have learned and grown and are getting much better. I don’t know if it was the time it was published or if Bill is just outspoken, or because it was a semi indy book but there are various places where I see something/hear something and I look back at it and just go “I can’t believe he just got away with saying that and wasn’t stoned to death as he would in this day in age. In some places he seems to be also pushing the readers buttons just for shock value and that is annoying because there is no depth to it, I don’t mind when there is - as many of the plot lines have pushed the boundaries in ways I respect, some of the most famous are referenced at the elementals Wikipedia page. But some of the dialog and small scenes I just block after time because of Bill's outspoken homophobia and racism (even going as far in some issues to use the "N" word, which I wouldn't mind if a racist character said - I know the difference between character's opinions and their writer's - but it was in response to a letters column.) that's not to say that he now, it was the 80's/early 90's and homophobia was at a high point with all the new but not understood info about HIV. But he could be a product of the time just like most people have someone they know who has a racist grandparent or something of the like because of the generation they grew up in.
Also as I'm making clear with current projects I'm working on, excessive cursing (no
i don't think comics should be controlled/silenced etc from what can/can't be said) as bill has said several times in th letter's column "if you don't like my book, don't buy it." but i do think it, makes me at least, jump back from what I'm reading - takes me out of the story/reading experience - and anything that does that should be avoided. I've met writers like Mike Barron who only want artists that render sparingly because he believes if you render like Jim Lee it interrupts the reading flow of the story the writer takes time to pace out. which is true, I can see his point - artists like Mignolla even simplify their style when it comes to fight scenes so you read faster - which is a cool idea as well. All I'm trying to say is I think you can have your cake and eat it too. I think books like Watchmen accomplished plenty in character depth etc with sparse cursing, and yet you get how mad, sexist etc a character is.
All this drawing for other people's stories has also got me inspired to write again and I have had great success revisiting old ideas after years of letting them "cook" as Darwyn is famous for with projects like "hunter" and am excited about the possibilities that they are unfolding. I've also been reading some great stuff like...
The Hulk series - bruce jones
Daredevil series - b.m. bendis
Death of superman - louise simonson/jurgens etc.
Knightfall - dixon
the enigma - pencilled by duncan figredo
and how they really take advantage of the serialized format in comics. thats why i always thought it would be fun to write for soaps with a team of guys - and build towards "friday cliffhangers!"
I've also realized what a big difference it makes to be consistent. Looking back I was in love with Astonishing X-men artist John Cassiday, but looking back I realize some of that, as well as Dave Gibbon's work was just a ridiculous amount of consistency in their style etc.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

3/28/07 tOrN reposted update

This post is in reference to a webcomic I created a few years ago. If you are confused please refer to the previous posts.
You can read the webcomic by following the link here.

>deleted panels
>the original story vs. the comic


Im in the car on my girlfriends laptop on our way back to scad from a stressful, fun, and short road trip to long island. But before I sign off here’s some of the last of my tidbits. And before I forget, thank to matt for his fresh set of eyes, though out of order he helped me with his opinions on certain sequences and panels and eventually helped be print copy cut and staple the physical books together at 3am the night before the due date. Sorry green tea ice cream at the Frigate in NY wasn’t as good as you’d hoped, thanks anyways though.

My parents and josh for reading over the original story and helping me with constructive criticisms as well as a ever important fresh pair eyes.

And lastly robin for staying most ever night I was drawing this beast, even if you were sleeping on the couch in the conference room, you were with me and supported me - thank you and it meant allot to me. And for checking my grammar and finding a flipped word balloon the day before it was due. I love you with all my heart. Thanks to all.

Deleted panels

the first panel was in the first sequence and was replaced by the panel of the waitress turning around. This way I set up the direction in scene geometry of the diner from the waitress. I did however leave the text inverted, which is the way I did it for real and then like all the white text in the book planned on flipping once I scanned it into Photoshop.

This sequence was a very classically cinematic shot. I envisioned the camera panning with the character down to get the photograph and when he sat up, the camera pinning with him again, to see a tree in the headlights only a few feet from his hood. However in the process of making the panels I had drawn the first one in such a way that the interior of the car did not have barley any details, and in this way would contrast the outside. I eventually got so wrapped up in drawing the car and having it look totally off without a glove box, radio, footrest and so on that I forgot what I was trying to accomplish in the shot. Eventually the solution ly in raising the angle of the camera so that it was almost overhead of the character in the shot where Logan dives for it and then panning back up. It works generously in film partially for the format and aspect ratio of film. However vertical panels trying to hide a very horizontal windshield became a very difficult problem. So I eventually redrew them with reference and kept the concept above the image. Now its one of my favorite sequences in the book.

When I drew this panel I knew I needed the phone to be in his right hand but what I didn’t realize was that in the following panels I was going to have to pan into the phone speaker (very matrix and city of glass transition). - not all of us can do the creative wipe to show a change in location George Lucas!!!

These panels were meant to go between the shots of Logan loading the adultery bullet into the cylinder with the sister’s names and was a spur of the moment decision that I wanted to add. Eventually the discontinuity in shapes didn’t end up transitioning as well as I’d hoped and I had to cut panels so multi panel shots would line up on the same page later in the book. (Probably something I should have figured out in the first place.) This one was a panel I had drawn as a direct reference to a line in the story I wrote as a way of literally illustrating the metaphor. It didn’t work as well as id hoped and I had to cut panels. Though did like the “ahhhh” sound effect bridging panels from sleep to reality but eventually had to steal the text from the first panel and digitally combine them leaving ahh in the second panel and scrapping the first one. (I planned on inverting the roller coaster panel by the way.)


though these two aren’t actually next to one another in the book, I tried to show the children in similar positions to show even more the deja vu or symmetry of the past present and future in context of the story. Two girls in his life two children, two halves of a photo, two holes in the door and so on.

The panel on the left is actually from later in the story. I put them next to one another because I wanted to show how the panel on the left was meant to subconsciously put in your head that it would actually be him on the other side of the photograph. Almost like the transition when the waitress is looking at the photo and holding it where his head is and then turns revealing the same face behind the photo and you are meant to make the connection that it’s the same person even before she explicitly states it.


these two actually came after one another and as many transitions were supposed to transition by composition but because of the text and lower contrast on the left panel few people saw it, though a fade in film would have worked beautifully. I shall work on it in the future since my mind thinks very much in a film sense.

This sequence was something I thought of as I was drawing it in pencil. At first I wanted to show her division in wanting Logan to save her and wanting to kill herself then I thought about the ever abundant duality and decided one side would be the first sister and the other a different sister. The text reinforced the idea for all of you who didn’t catch it the first time around.


heres some pannels showing how and where i used the computer to do some of the work for me in shots where bery little changed.

the original story vs the comic

When I wrote the story I hated the ending, I had wanted to show the remorse in the character and his willingness to change his life. The hole idea of him losing his memories was that he would see his life objectively and approach his old decisions without the subjectivity of the cycle he created. The inescapability of the situation once he started and his inability to appreciate his surroundings. So in the comic I forgot to look at the script though visually I knew I wanted the last set of panels to show the division and then unification of the characters.

I wanted the last two pages to be boarderless pages, the same image, a full page spread of them hugging showing the entire body and with no boarders. One page the inverted image of the other. The great duality. Surrounding I wanted the text from the ending of the story. However once I drew the last actual panel I immediately loved it. And when I looked at the script I realized I didn’t need the last two. All the text had been better and less pretentiously explained and I doubted I could have drawn a better image than that panel and it was 6:45 am the day I needed to scan and print the images so I left it as the lst panel and don’t regret it nor view it as a constriction of time.

Rather that I think I produced better under pressure, though it was very stressful, deprived me of 66 of 72 hours of sleep as finals were going on and was allot of pressure. Though I had people for and against my ambitiousness in the class, the fact that I had stayed up so many nights over the previous week I would have all been a waste had I not finished it so after the second night straight of no sleep I passed the point of no return.

I waned to finish something and this being only my second completed graphic novel and the fact that I want to redo some of the other story “Yurushi” which I wrote as a story then comic book then film script then story boarded 70% of in film aspect ratio. This was really the first project that had turned out better than I expected and I learned so much making it. It was better than the written story which I cannot say about the other. Just the fact of finishing it and actually doing it rather than thinking about it and producing nothing in which to show both the story and my artistic skill to others I had to do it. And love it. I love the different format and the restrictions I placed in the panel size and overcame.

I do like my thumbs better in both stories though, but the amount of detail I added was necessary to keep the characters straight to the viewer. Though they do change preto radically throughout the corse of the book. Probably due to getting to know the characters artistically as I did the book rather than in my sketchbook.

Anyway what I was trying to work towards saying was that the story is different in the ending mainly in the fact that not allot of people bought the ending in the story. They didn’t think she should have taken Logan back he didn’t seem story enough. So in the coarse of revisiting the story which I wrote a year before back at cu in telling tales class. I decided to make Ashley part of the problem by confessing that she too added to the stress by sabotaging the condom that resulted in her pregnancy and his anger towards their future child. However her motivation was that she knew of his relationship behind her back with her sister and thought a baby would bring them back together and force him morally to split up with Julie once and for all. The shots of her loading the bullet in the gun were supposed to be symbolic of her forced sexual consequences and both parts were supposed to be similar in physical form to their genitalia, as gross as it sounds it’s the truth.

The story twist and her deeper motivations made the ending more believable, I think though the whole thing seems kinda fake and unbelievable (or the whole story fro that matter) and as my friend pointed out they would probably go to jail as soon as the found out it was the parents. But it’s a comic book and I loved the story none the less. My girlfriend finds my stories depressing and I guess its because its drama. A series of unfortunate events. And I assumed the heavier the events, motives, secrets and relationships the better the story.

I had just seen magnolia when I saw it and was watching allot of house of sound and fog and other Jennifer Connely movies which tend to be downers. Though she says she wants to do comedy she always ends up balling in some part of her movie. (Ps: also requiem for a dream ) speaking of which I wanted to see “the fountain” which is Darren Arenofsky’s 3rd film though I am sure he is one of the most talented directors of his time and one of my biggest film inspirations as well as depalma but people seem to have mixed feelings about him. However once I saw femme fatale I was sold, he’s also been behind films like Mission Impossible, Scarface and taxi driver so give it up already. Black Dahlia sucked though. But that’s what you get with writer/directors, pure magic or disjointed disconnected and un obliterated vision.

So anyways this may be one of my lastly posts before I get working on the tentatively titled “Sleepgate” another story I wrote last year in creative writing at cu and have changed just like torn.
© 2007 zach bassett, all rights reserved. no part of “torn” related material posted here may be reproduced an any form without written permission of the author via email, also any copyright not stated here is stated at the bottom of the blog. Any art/pictures not done/taken by me are copyright of their respective owners.

3/17/07 - tOrN reposted update

This post is in reference to a webcomic I created a few years ago. If you are confused please refer to the previous post.
You can read the webcomic by following the link here.

>drawing the panels
>fixing the panels
>format and the comics field in general
Drawing the panels

My original idea was to draw basic spheres and then just trust my hand at inking as a way of improving my inking style and becoming confident in a permanent medium. Because I had seen how I loved my sketches, but how they went flat and static when I inked because I was so cautious. I used a micron #8 and a fiber castle "f" and "s" sizes. They had a flat point I could put at an angle to get thin lines and hold perpendicular for thicker lines. However most of the time I wanted a thicker line I just did a double line like Charles Schultz. I was only reducing the panels to 86% of what they were drawn at, so there wasn't that much difference in size from the printed version. I did start off this way and I guess that's why the panels looked kinda wonkie to begin with but by the end I was sketching out panels fairly tightly at least specifically in the face, because I found that's the part I screwed up most often. Not to mention the expressions got harder to think about and draw as the comic went on. Emotions became more complex and I had to be an actor of sorts and think about what faces went with what expressions.
This is about the only place I used reference because while people know (much is the problem in 3d) when something isn't right they couldn't identify the iconic traits of the gesture, walk, expression whatever without actually doing it, they just know its wrong because we've seen it so much in our everyday lives and tv. It's a subconscious thing but something artists have to think about and be able to identify. I was taking a photo for the hand on the table in the panel where Logan leaves a tip and had my girlfriend put her hand down. It was wrong, I couldn't tell her why but it wasn't the symbol for that gesture.

As Duncan, my professor for intro, was saying each panel is a symbol in pictures for what is actually happening. If your trying to show someone cutting hair you show spray bottle, scissors, a black comb.
By the end the problem, as I've grown to respect artists that draw clean and simple, is that they have to think about drawing the panel before hand the most. It's like what are the barest bones I can give the audience and will still get the idea across. I thought it was laziness and while it's not as much work physically, it makes up for it in planning. I think this is why I liked my thumbnails better than my actual panels. And they were small enough for me to see the composition.

I think if I go pro (please let it happen eventually) I would use a method which unfortunately I heard of from Rob Liefield - sucks by the way but for reasons which I will explain later. He draws small and blows them up and then draws the details. I think it is good for a sense of proportions especially if I were to do a splash page or something big. Though figure drawing has helped me get comfortable drawing big, I am so used to 8 1/2x11 work its hard to draw bigger. And like I said earlier especially with composition and silhouettes.
Drawing the panels was a difficult problem, because I didn't know if I should draw the pictures first and assume the size of the text and then have those problems in editing dialogue. Or if I should letter first and draw around it, which felt weird and awkward.

The entire book was an exercise in confidence, storytelling over art, and profile shots. I had a hard time drawing profiles and so I purposely made the photo a double profile shot so I would have to draw it so much I would eventually get it right. And I think I nailed it in the last panel. But it took the whole book to get it right, but practice makes perfect right? Anyway, figuring out the difference between males and females faces not to mention bodies has long since been one of my problems. All these things much as the gestures are easily solved with reference because you don't have to think about it, but next to a few expressions and a few hands or object - like the gun - the whole thing was drawn completely out of my head. Jaw lines, hands, feet, noses and eyebrow. Mouths, lips noses - each must be drawn so different to imply the gender defenses that if you mix and match you will get them looking like some manly hermaphrodite.

I remembered Jim lee saying and seeing it most comics, you barley draw the nose with girls , usually just the nostrils and you have to keep them small. The jaw is particularly hard and something I think I still have to work on. But in profile as well all the features change. Men you can add as many lines as you want make them knobby and exageratedly 3d and they can still look young. With women if you draw any lines between the cheek and eyes it adds 20 years. Men are so ugly so wrinkly. Why do women like us. If I was a girl I would be a lesbian.

Many of the panels I would draw and the angle would change from behind the character to in front of him/her which means according to the viewer the right hand will go from one side and flip to the opposite. The 180 rule, from film, which splits characters to sides of the composition and tries to keep them there to avoid confusion by not rotating the camera more that 180 degrees, in fact usually around only 90. When you have to see the back of one of the character's heads, and not the faces, it means the viewer has to think about it and it detaches them from the story and the reality of the story with the technicalities of its presentation. However changing the camera angle, and screwing up this rule and other rules can subconsciously make the viewer say, "wow something is wrong here," because were so trained with these rules we don't even know how much switching the characters, just for one panel, can be.

I had originally been really excited about using a zip tone to separate layers of depth in the composition which would have been amazing and worked so much better. But because of time I did parallel lines as a shading technique, the problem was I used the same thick pen, as I had drawn the outlines with in the beginning, which made all the lines the same weight and you ended up losing the contours.

Fixing panels

I started using the white out tape to edit text easily though because of the sharp points of the pens I used, the white out tape would tear through. I would try to flatten it with my fist, hoping to flatten and stick it into the rest of it which still stuck to the paper - but it fell off most often. In the beginning I had used acrylic paint that I would paint on and draw over. This didn't have the same problem of "fraying," however it did become 3d and didn't make it easy to draw straight lines and it didn't take permanent marker at all. Around the time of the phone contestations and the diner scene I didn't have my lettering guide so I had to leave space and then rewrite the text and cut it out on a separate sheet and paste it on with some double sticky tape - thanks to Alison for that tape by the way. For the most part this scanned alright without casting a shadow. This took a particularly long time because it added steps and I had to draw background that was eventually covered up.


Anything goes in inking. It all comes down to the fact that the final product will be 2d, and whatever you have to do so that it is black and white, and so it is the panel you want goes. If that's cutting and pasting, whiting out, digitally mixing images, adding text afterward etc.


Much as I believe Frank Miller drew some of the panels for Sin City I drew the text in invert of what I wanted the final to look like and then flipped it on the computer, knowing I was scanning these before I would be able to reproduce them. I tried buying a white paint pen
but it was a piece of crap and soaked into the Bristol without doing a thing. I could also copy things from other panels, if they didn't change such as in the panels I mentioned earlier. I chose a 5 for lettering size which ended up meaning, I could only fit about 3 to 4 lines of text across the top of a panel and still be able to include an image.

Format and the comics field in general

However making sure the left character talks first or the highest character speaks first, and so on, become problems you have to deal with. I guess in short comic artists are not so much artists as we are storytellers and problem solvers. Some even go so far as to say the hero should always enter from the left and move right, like your eye across a page. Villains contradict this rule and should subconsciously make you estranged from them, at least some bit. This also ties into how composition should be thought of with how the eye moves from panel to panel and word balloon to balloon etc. I asked one of my friends when we read through the other's minis and I realized we didn't actually look at the panels. We read from word balloon to word balloon and only saw the panels peripherally. Which was a disappointment to me but good to know when I draw. Thank god I didn't have to think about how I would get down to the next tier of panels like a vertically stacked conventional orientation page would.
I had originally thought I wanted to post the images as a web comic -all side by side, one big long scrolling comic - this was brought on after seeing McCloud speak at SCAD about how the web browser/screen could be a window to a bigger canvas and how without having to turn pages there is no leaps of faith or cut off point in which the viewer kind of has to remember what happened before without being able to see it.

On the internet its all right there. Its almost how film editing works and how good editors are, in theory, are supposed to make cuts when people blink and some actually use infrared cameras on a test audiences to watch for blinks and make cuts on a majority of simultaneous blinks. But well see if it ends up on the internet. I will however try to post pictures with the what I'm talking about.
I was really inspired by city of glass' use of the basic 9 panel page.

When David Mazzucchelli deviated from it the panels were multiples of the single panel. They were double size, quadruple or whatever. I figured I could get the same effect but still drawing the panel boarders. Speaking of which, I drew 36 panels to an 18X24 Bristol sheet which I then scanned in four portions and then arranged into pages on the computer. Which became a problem dealing with figuring out which panels ended on the right page because I would have transitions or as I call them sequences - who's composition directly related to the panels before or after it - this is one of the main reason I have any deleted panels. The rest of the deleted panels were because the panel just didn't work and needed to be completely redone. Or something was wrong to the point it would just be easier to redo it than fix the same one


I tried to think of the shots very much like I would direct it if it were a film. So many of the shots are the same angle with things happening over time rather than changing the camera angle for every new panel. This way the viewer focuses on the change and allows me to be more specific and predict more easily points of interest and focal points for the viewer. Like when ashley opens her eyes angrily later in the story when she backs up into Logan after stepping in Brandon's blood. Looking at these early panels really makes me realize how much the style changed throughout the book. How I progressively used fewer and fewer lines, less shading and just simpler panels in general. Though the style of storytelling changed as well. I started off trying to remember what I was thinking of when I wrote the story in the first place. It was done in such a quick fashion that I drew and drew ideas I had picked my favorite and moved on from the beginning of the book to the end, making a few notes along reading through the script before I drew thumbnails at all.

There were a few reoccurring images I tried to repeat when they made since. Like before Logan knows who he is, I used the image of a face over and over. In the sink, the breakfast plate etc. Many of the sequences were slow zooms with the progressions of actions in them. Or transitions based on composition and layout - like the shot changing from when the waitress sees the blood and him inside looking at his hand in the bathroom. The food, the clock, the face. And most consciously when he would wake from flashback and have the same figure with different backgrounds.

© 2007 zach bassett, all rights reserved. no part of “torn” related material posted here may be reproduced an any form without written permission of the author via email, also any copyright not stated here is stated at the bottom of the blog. Any art/pictures not done/taken by me are copyright of their respective owners.

Geocities closes - tOrN's new home

Geocities is closing next month and as I had a fairly extensive behind the scenes section on geocities previously at
for my webcomic/mini "tOrN" I will be moving all of that content here in the next 3 posts.

I have also joined a small but growing new ".ning" site called "indy comic creators worldwide" you can view my page here.
I haven't been able to post very much new artwork though I assure you I am working on several projects, most of which will not be published for a while so I can't post anything before they do.

In general here;s what to look for/a guide to the madness. I had two main posts dated...

>drawing the panels
>fixing the panels
>format and the comics field in general

>deleted panels
>the original story vs. the comic