Decisions 2 Preview Pages 2 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART These are preview pages for Souled #2, From Blood #1, and Decisions #2 from Cosmic Times Comics. Black Cobra #0 from Radioactive comics, and No West to Cross #1 that was put out by 215 ink, but will now be self published. I penciled all of the images and inked the pages from Decisions.
So I'm now noticing after basically only reading comics for a few years out of college I'm now having a hard time going back to novels. I championed comics as a gateway to literacy when you're young, but at my age it can almost be a crutch. And I do believe that there are different processes in your mind when combining pictures and text but now I've developed other problems. I have found reading books with larger font helps me but that might be just my eyes. Even my attention span has shortened, I don't know if it is conditioning from the fairly fast reads that today's comics are but I can't bring myself to be interested to read for a novel for more than 10pgs to a chapter or so in a novel before I get bored. I can't keep track of names or visualize characters or scenes that arent pictured somewhere. Am I just used to comics showing my exactly what's going on that I've lost the ability or become lazy to the point that I don't fill in the details with my mind? I have the same problems I had in high-school, I'll space out in the middle of a paragraph and have to reread. Part of it may be that I'm doing most my reading in my bed, which I've heard to never study in your bed, because your mind associates locations with actions, such as sleeping. Though I am able to make it through novels with terse fast paced short sentences like the Parker novels. Is everyone getting to be like this, and will we have to actively fight to not be like this or have I just overstimulated the visual part of my brain and, like a drug, am not getting the same high off of purley text reading material.
And on a last note, me and my little brother tried to read the Megamind comics, which are funny but aimed at an audience who can't read or understand the words megamind uses. Though I heard Stan Lee used to do that specifically to get kids to look them up and expand their vocabulary - but do kids really do that these days, or just put it down and move on?
check the da pages for my comments. Sounds like I'll no longer be doing art for the Periodic Heroes blog, but I have been enjoying Marcos Martin, marcos martin and eric canete's work on Spider-man: the gauntlet. as well as the first three trades of mark waid's irredeemable.
I just got to take a look at Osamu Tezuka’s “M W” which was awesome and so amazing because it is still shocking how ballsey it is even today (originally published in 1975 and just released in the states in 2007). To preface, I am not making any judgment calls on the material in MW, but it was shocking to see some of the things that were in it, especially for someone as famous as to garner the nick name “the godfather of Manga/Anime.” He called it his “anti-Tezuka manga” with a story involving Catholic priest who is sworn to celibacy with women, so he gets his jollies in the loophole of sleeping with a guy who crossdresses as a woman for him. There are scenes of implied sex with children and even scenes that suggest things with animals (like a whole page of the crossdresser wrestling in the tub with his dog – framed to always show both the dog and human’s full bodies even though the lower half of their bodies serve no importance). Things that are less explicit but you can tell are meant to make you connect the dots. Making such notably odd comics as Charles Burns’ “Black Hole” look like Sesame Street by comparison. There were some questions I had about the inconsistencies in his choices about how overt to be with his rendering of the story. Some scenes seem so graphically violent (explosions which throw severed body parts at the viewer and a murderer sticking an unconscious victims head in a furnace) and yet other scenes, especially sexual ones will skirt around the overt images, and I’m not sure if this is the case in the original manga or just how it was edited for American audiences: Things like an image framed to show full naked bodies will fade to white towards their waists leaving only a line or two to describe any detail, and yet leaving this blank space to occupy at least ½ the panel. Similar scenes cut to pure abstract shapes moving with the character’s dialog over the. Certain sexual scenes will become increasingly dimly lit the longer the scene lasts until they are purely silhouettes. I also noticed oddities like entirely black word balloons – which I’m not sure what it is supposed to mean. It’s such an odd mix artistically because Tezuka’s characters’ are so cartoony and exaggerated and yet the props like guns and backgrounds will be photorealistic unlike Kirby’s backgrounds which follow the basic style of his figures. This may be due to Manga’s approach of using assistants specific to items and not processes, like a motorcycle artist, or gun artists, instead of the American process of a penciler and a an inker or finisher. And while Jack “the King” Kirby is reported to have drawn 20,000 pages over his career in comics, Tezuka is reported to have drawn over 150,000 – almost just less than 8 times as many pages – though I believe Manga’s storytelling at the time was much more decompressed than American comics – something we’ve started to match pace with over the last 10 years. Both men helped write the stories they worked on, and created much of their country’s comic visual vernacular, as well as did many things outside of comics, not the least of which for Tezuaka was pioneering the start of Japanese animation. It’s startling to see how these two seemed so similar and influential, like peers to compare and yet so vastly different I in their output, both probably effected by the culture and processes they worked in.
Dynast color samples 1 by ~xaqBazit on deviantART I was the colorist for these pages and about 25pgs of the book Dynast:The Rise of Bherek White, which is to be published by Shatterday Comics. You can expect the book around July-Aug. I penciled the top page as a sample page. Also in Aug Kord and Harley: 7 deadly sins, which I inked 1 1/2 issues out of will be published, you can find more here. I also wrote a story for the Japan Needs Heroes anthology, called "Frozen Hopes" Which is my first writing exclusive project. Below is a sample page though the final will be colored.
Frozen Hopes Pg1 Letters by ~Master-Futon on deviantART And lastly the 11'oclock comics anthology is debuting this week at the Summit City Comic Con, which me and James did the art for the Battle of Hastings story in it. You can find more about it here. Which will feature the finished version of the below artwork among other pages.
Hey just thought I'd update after being back from Megacon. Me and James are actually in talks with a publisher for From Blood, so issue 1 was not at megacon this year though I did get a few commissions and sold a few prints. Here's one me and Jame's did just for fun.
Supergirl Megacon 2011 by ~JamesWhynotInks on deviantART Also had a lot of fun getting to see old favorites like Hobbes, Patrick, Watts, James, Martin, and a whole slew of new friend's and contacts like Adam and Comfort of "the uniques," they also gave me a very valuable portfolio review and just talking to them about the philosophy of their work ethic really gave me a new attitude about working in comics in general. I also was able to spend only the money I made at the convention and managed, for the 1st time, to spend all of it in Artist's Alley. It went a lot faster but I really got surprised and how much good stuff was out there, and really took a chance with a lot of books that paid off when reading them - it was time for me to finally put my money where my mouth was, and it was great. There were also a few different people/organizations trying to raise money to help with the Tsunami Victims in Japan. One thing I'll be doing is contributing to the anthology for that very cause, which you can find here. Other than that Paul Pope's comments on this panel really changed how I looked at my style, when he talked about Kirby as a "cartoonist" - which is usually such a shunned term to refer to comic artists who aren't doing funny books, but it's true. It's also the 1st time I've tried "indie spinner rack" since I normally listen to Comic Geek Speak. I've penciled and inked two 10pg stories last month that will be published soon, and I'll give the details soon. I also just learned how drastic of a change in body language tilting a figure's head to one side or another can effect their mood/expression.
Also ran into and remembered some of my first comics that I no longer have: Superman #59 Back to the Future #4, 6, 7 Wild West Cowboys of Moo Mesa #1 Malibu's Mortal Kombat: Blood Thunder #6 (which my mom made me throw away because I wasn't supposed to buy such violent comics, lol) Various #1 issues when Dark Horse was doing "Comic's greatest world." I remember getting Phase 1 (a small black and white comic), various issues of Dark Hawk and Classic Star Wars which I still have, all around the time Star Wars Dark Empire and Preacher just started coming out.
I finished the pencils for Souled #2 the other day and did this for my friend's band, but I've heard mixed reviews about its readability. If you turn it 90 to the right you can see the skull pretty easy. But I think it works as being intrinsically visually interesting even if you don't know what you're looking at. So I think I still accomplished my goal and got to do another digital painting. As far as souled goes since doing 20pgs for From blood #1, back to back with a 24pg issue for Souled - my style is starting to cement itself. In my opinion somewhere between Chris Spouse and JRJR. Drawing for color with Souled has also changed things like my black placement and made me use more lines and hatching, like a exaggerated or blocky Kubert. Though I love seemingly simplistic work of guys like Alex Toth and even how loose Rick Leonardi's work is. But I'm also finding out how great and different a piece can look when you leave that much up to the inker. Some things that don;t matter to me and some that I envisioned as being a bit different when finished out than they go - not better or worse, it just means giving some of the finished product up to the inker. Which takes a little getting used to, especially since before Souled I hadn't worked with a separate inker over me. But I've still been able to stay well ahead of my deadlines and even fit projects into crunch areas when I have a break. Not relating to my style, but finding some classic Jose Luis Garcia Lopez artwork that I grew up with and being able to say - "That's my Batman" and feeling so dumb for always assuming his art was Niel Adams - though both look great and I prefer with the bold inking of my fav. Dick Giordano, RIP.
see preview pages from Souled #1 here See the megacon exclusive litho here I also posted my first public script for a Batman story I wrote a while back to hopefully find some writing work. You can read it here
Recently I’ve really been itching to do some writing, and have done “some.” My 7yr old little brother just started reading in the last year or so, and while I was the biggest proponent for comics as a tool for children’s literacy it just didn’t stick as I had planned it would – like me, he was just “reading the pictures,” I’ve even read various places that for those who do read the words many completely skip the captions all together – so there was a stigma against using them or relying on them in comics. But what did grab his attention, and held on tight, were the choose-our-own-adventure (CYOA) or pick-a-path books. I soon became vicariously obsessed with them for about a week straight, even venturing to create my own, and learned a lot in the process.
I got him Disney’s recent Prince of Persia and he loved it. So I immediately went to the used book store and started getting all the ones I could, never spending more than a dollar or two per book. And eventually becoming so intrigued I drew out a “plot chart” for my own story, which I found incredibly fun and exciting - while the few people I tested it on/read it to found it cliché and predictable at best.
Basically the whole hook of the different books are the concept – “space vampires,” “playoff champion” etc. Because that sets up all your possible variables, and defines everything about your reader’s predictions about the story while the individual decisions usually rely on the same tropes as all the others creating “once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all” and causing a kind of “genre buffet” when choosing one, which may be worth it for library checkouts but makes it difficult to spend money on.
After researching more I found most of them are written by an author named R.A. Montgomery, and that they were all the rage before computers were able to randomize simple events and introduce variables the reader didn’t have to pick (such as in the original Carmen San Diego, to change where Carmen was hiding) and this improved the experience of returned playing/reading, which I must say in CYOA books is difficult at best because the only way you care about the story is if you have some investment in the decisions you make, the second time around you’re doing just the opposite. The books are written in second-person “you go to the lake and find a dead body” which is great because it puts you in the shoes of the main character.
Some of the better illustrators for the books even take this a step further by either not showing or only showing from the back, the main character – but it’s rather difficult since he/she is the only one the book can talk about and any images immediately identify a gender, which alienates half of the potential readers’ identification with the main character – assuming that the books are written equally for boys and girls, which they are usually not. My wife mentioned that she thought doing a petty-romance version would interest girls, like the romance comics of the 70’s found an audience with them. But how far can you go with romance for the age group they’re aimed at - or any genre for the matter? You basically have to skirt around any real dangers and situations because of very type of book you’re writing.
One of the major limitations, which I found researching and reading them is that for any given path there is not usually a fulfilling narrative arc – as far as the “three act structure:” Beginning, middle and end. It usually ends up feeling like one-thing-after-another until it’s over – which usually results in your death. And plot devices like foreshadowing of events, or even repercussions for your decisions are either: 1) virtually non-existent or may become non-existent depending on the choices you made or 2) occur directly after your decision, since most of the storylines usually end up crossing back towards the end – if you live to see it – such as: the story where maybe you “didn’t take the blue pill” must now conclude on the same page as if you had, so the mention or consequence of must be left out entirely to generalized enough to share page space between stories.
The last disadvantage I found was that everything mentioned must be through one character’s eyes – the book cannot cut to a scene taking place on the other side of the world that the character doesn’t know about, so subplots and characters really serve no purpose or get any screen time unless they directly affect the main character, as opposed to just running parallel to the main story.
I think they are funner to write then read which seems to bee the conceit of the format. If not only a headache to keep track of, they take the pressure off the writer of trying to choose between where he wants the story to go and puts the pressure into making as many of those situations as possible and usually writing both. Each plot point is usually a page or less in length and has a decision or ending at the bottom, unless it is a linking page by which the author lays out basically the extent of whatever differences may be in your story before you link back up with a main one – basically one extended page split between two for economy of space. As I mentioned they usually include illustrations and run about 150 dime-novel or smaller pages long.
I have seen they now have the Dungeons and Dragon’s interactive DVD “Scourge of Worlds,” and some websites even offer organizational tools and web space for user-written adventures that you can simply click your way through. Furthermore there’s even a microcosm-of-a-microcosm of people who play “mud connector” a text-based command-line-driven internet game, which makes even the most hardcore D&D fans look incredibly sociable. There are also, more currently, some “Anything can happen… Whatever you want” or similar books, for older readers and usually run about 4-5 times longer in page length. I suppose Dungeons and Dragons, and similar games, are a version of this medium for a somewhat older audience, but the books themselves fall victim to the strengths of other genres – in games: having more choices and randomization, and in books: having the ability to be an “omniscient viewer” and learn more than your character, a key to suspense versus surprise.
So they end up being a sort of novelty niche-genre/medium, a guilty pleasure for most (if at all), and for those excited about books that read like video games, and don’t mind the thin plots they may offer a bridge for children away from video games/tv/computer and into the world of reading and literacy – even if they aren’t the destination.
Check out this link for a cool roll over version of a cyoa story map.
I've started teaching sequential art at the Community College of Aurora here in Colorado, which has been very fun and rewarding, though just like comics you have to do it for the love of it. I heard a quote the other day that I really liked, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life."
"From Blood" Issue 1 Cover by ~xaqBazit on deviantART Here's some new art, since its been a while. Ive been hard at work and now am proud to announce me and James will have the 1st issue of our 1st series that is all us - meaning we created it all. "From Blood" #1 of 2 will be 30pgs long, black and white interior and a color cover. This is the pencil version of the cover - price should be around $3.00 and will premiere at Mega Con 2011. It will be lettered by Michael Moore.
It's been a while. I'm back at the drawing board getting started on Souled issue 2, and a few other projects with cosmic times comics as well as the first half of a book me and James have been working on that were calling "from blood" - the first issue will be 30pgs b+w and should be ready to debut at Megacon. I've been working on coloring the Dynast as well as winding up to teach a Class on graphic Novels at the Community College of Aurora later this month. So between my computer crashing in the middle of all that and me and my wife changing day jobs its been hectic since mid-november but it's good to be back and doing art that is better than ever. So far I've planned to attend the following conventions in 2011: Megacon - entity, from blood and souled will all debut with some contribution from me. SuperShow (those guys keep me motivated all day long) SwarmCon (scad) Ny Comic Con (hopefully) San Diego Comic Con (hopefully)
I may be selling original comic pages and art at the con's as well as doing convention sketches for $10. We'll see how things go, hopefully we can finish up Souled, get in some other projects and finish up "From Blood" before 2012, just in case the world does end. Oh yeah and I also finished digitally painting my first cover for souled #1 - which is full color by the way for only 3.50 thanks to my friend Kevin Ziegler, as well as my wife doing the alternative cover. See the cosmic times website for more info here.