Saturday, January 16, 2010

One heck of a Month

This month alone:
-I have drawn and inked the 9pg story for Cosmic Times, “Saving Father” in “Decisions, Issue 1.”
-I have written/penciled/inked/lettered a 5pg story entitled “Friend$hip” and inked (with my wife’s help filling some spot blacks) a 5pg story entitled “3:33am,” written by Patrick Sessoms for the ICCWW Anthology Showcase.
-I have done 2 pgs of inking samples and a pg of pencil samples for ECV press.
-And lastly I have penciled the first 5pgs for James’ Graphic Novel “27.”

The two stories I worked on for the ICCWW Anthology “Showcase,” will be sold at Megacon, as well as my first published whole issue of art, “Decisions Issue 1 (which will be available at the Cosmic Times Booth). I believe Issue 2 of “Concrete Dove” will also be available but it may be saved as a web comic, for What the Flux Media that I did the cover for.
I’ve also started a Con Calendar on my profile if anyone is interested. Right now Megacon is the only one up, but I’ll be adding more soon. I will be jumping between the “What the Flux Media” booth and the “Cosmic Times” booth and will have issues of the ICCWW Anthology for sale as well (which can also be bought through the ICCWW booth).
I will have my portfolio as well as plenty of original art on hand either to see or buy, and will be doing Con Sketches for $15-20, depending on if you want it inked etc.

All this work forced me to ink everything but “Friend$hip” and the ECV inking samples here in the last week. I wish I could taken more time on but I am extremely proud of the work none the less. I do believe the work I’ve been doing is my best, which is always the goal and have even snuck in a good amount of experimenting.

-For example, Friend$hip is done in a cartoonier style as an homage to Humberto Ramos, an artist who my wife loves and I’ve been watching for some time. We just finished collecting the complete “Crimson” series he did a while back. The story is dedicated to her, and is autobiographical.

-For this second story “Saving Father” in Decisions Issue 1, I was told to try a darker style and so every time the characters get angry the style changes to a grittier rougher inking style. This was highly influenced by the work of the late, great Jorge Zaffino and this page specifically - available on his website. It was also the first time I have used Google “Sketch Up” for my art, a fact which many artist would hide but I wanted to state, because it was my first time and I have been on the fence about using 3D for comics after being shunned away by professors in college. But the truth is I ran into so many professionals at Mini-Mega Con who used it and made it work, and know of so many more, that I figured I better see what everyone was talking about. I found it decently easy to work with (after being a 3D major for a year in college) but still clumsy. I also noticed several details I would have needed to add to the model had I shot it from the other side, and the use of photo reference for textures and details like that must (I believe) go hand-in-hand. I also believe what someone said at the con, that “they might be laying it out digitally, but are Inking it by hand” And I think that goes a long way to making it mesh with your artwork.

-I tried Strathamore’s line of “smooth” comic Bristol board, because of its economy (around .50 cents a sheet) and Higgins Black Magic ink, for its availability (the only brand of waterproof ink that Michael’s carries). I don’t know if it is the combination of both together but I could Not use a quill without it bleeding horribly. In which case Faber Castell’s “M”and “B” size tech and brush pens came in extremely handy. I was able to pull it in a way that feathered the line and imitated the Quill, even with the “M” pen. Using the ink in a brush to fill spot blacks I also found the ink to be incredibly watery and gray.

-Dave Gibbons and seeing the Watchmen Motion Comic has had huge effect on how I draw, the close up zooms of his art really let me study and see what he was doing and so the way I shade walls and even draw some faces closely resembled his style while illustrating Watchmen. The way I illustrated the father character in “Saving Father” closely resembles the way he drew the character Moloch, mixed with a pseudo self-portrait of me while working on the pages. I also got to do some cool things with a toothbrush, reminiscent of John Cassaday’s run on Captain America, after 9/11.

-I tried some reflection techniques similar to the Jurgens/Breeding style run around the time of the Death of Superman. As well as picked up on a few things other superman artists did to quickly depict buildings during those issues. I posted a small picture a few posts back relating to what I’m talking about.

-I experimented with mark-making using the brush to imitate leaves though I still need to work on that more.

-And lastly I’ve found that printing Blue Lined Art at Fed-Ex/Kinkos stinks and is expensive. It printed way too dark and lead me to have to use the “Replace color” tool in photoshop to replace left over Blue (even after tweaking the “levels”) with White - which thinned much of my inking out in the story “3:33am.” Which will also be my first published story just as an inker over another artist.

A short word about the 90's
-It’s been a weird experience growing up and loving what is now considered a dark and nearly was “the final period” in Comic’s history - the collecting bubble of the early 90's. On the popular podcast Comic Book Geek Speak (CBGS), which I have been listing to almost non-stop for the last week, the first question they ask their guests burring interviews is “what was your first comic” or even what was your “gateway” comic, that lead you into wanting to do this as a profession. And the comics I grew up on are now something to shy away from, stylistically and otherwise. So re-learning what “good comics” are, has largely been a very troubled road for my generation I think. And for more reasons than this, but - it may be why it is so hard to break in right now, is because the people that are young grew up learning with the wrong idea of what comics are and should be (in the eyes of the people who would hire you now). We are the ultimate fanboy generation, who bought multiple issues, foil, variant and fold-out poster covers and anything that had an “X” in the title or that resembled either mutants or Jim Lee’s art. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Jim Lee but it was that whole generation of artists and writers who either by choice or were told to imitate him that lead to such a derivative and similar in the name of money - and maybe that generation was even more so a “fanboy generation of creators” than the one’s who grew up reading their work, but never the less - now here we are, the kids who grew up with that being our definition for comics and now we are in a world where that type of thing gives some people shivers. So it is up to us to redefine it for ourselves, but it is also a burden, I guess of every generation of artists to not look outdated and move past your influences, to look more modern and to get work that way - who knows, perhaps that’s all they were doing as well.

Comics and Pop Culture
-I good point was brought up the other day on CBGS, that “comic characters are more popular in movies/games than they are in the comic books, anymore.” And even comic-related shows like “Heroes” are capitalizing on what comics brought to the world and while the companies are seeing the money at some point it is passing through more hands, forcing specialty shops to widen their product base to everything related to comics just to keep people comic in. My point is, it is sad that comic characters are so popular right now and yet they are making the least amount of money through their original medium. How would they have ever gotten where they are with out it? Or are they like movies in the theater or Disney world, they make very little off of your ticket but everything off of the snacks and t-shirts. Has it always been that way? Or does a spike in the actual market cause the 90's collector bubble I previously commented on? I, myself saw/read “one of the most celebrated comics of all time,” Watchmen, for the first time as a “motion-comic.” But at least they were nice enough to add at the end of the credits something like “be sure to enjoy Watchmen in it’s original form” - but did I? No. What does that say about the industry?

One last note:
- I recently acquired a reprint edition of the Star Wars Dark Empire II trade (I’m still trying to get I) which includes Empire’s End and it’s the only time I’ve been compelled to buy a different edition of a book because of the print quality. All the colors are light and washed out, the blacks are every shade of gray and rarely dark enough to keep a consistent tone and all the colors look fuzzy and grainy, similar to what saving a picture as a low quality .jpg will do. I love Cam Kenedy’s work and I love being able to get it in reprints but the quality of this most recent reprint just ruined the experience for me - of what I remember the original Trade having - vibrant saturated colors and stark blacks - amazing clarity and the classic iconic Dave Dorman covers - which they also changed and moved his art to the back cover.