Sunday, February 26, 2017

Reader Copies

When I first got published, I thought there would be some sort of editing process, but I really didn't get much from the publisher. I imagined that they would go over every panel and every word, but the feedback that I got back was and has always been very broad. I would get a comment along the lines of, "a bit too stream of conscious," and then have to work with that.

I remember being surprised to hear that Jessica Abel had also experienced the same thing. It might just be that indie comic/graphic novel publishing companies are only few people wearing thirty-seven hats, so when it comes to focused, specific feedback, there just isn't time. Or it might just be that comic-making is this long laborious task that making changes on a finished work is too problematic.

My first book came out with almost no review. I was living in the boonies in Vermont with no peers to provide feedback, and I really think the only other person who had read it before it was published it was the publisher.  I can't imagine letting a book go out like that now with so few eyes having looked at it.

Now, I try to have as many people as possible look at something before it goes to press, whether it's self-published or other-published. I'm in the process of putting together reader copies for This World Is Not For Burning (I stole the title from The Avengers Vol.1 #85)(the stories are not related in the least)(but it just sounded right). I'm hoping to have it finished and printed by April, but I am a little behind schedule at the moment.

This week's...

Ringworld by Larry Niven
Death Day: Part One by Samuel Hiti
Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Chobits: Volume 1 by Clamp



Sunday, February 19, 2017

More More More

I filled up my shelves with books, so I got more shelves, but now I have empty spots in the shelves and I think I need to get more books.

And the foolish thing is that there are lots of books on my shelf that I haven't read, books bought because I found them at a good price, books I got with a whole pile of other books, books that were given to me, and books bought simply because it felt like they should be books on my shelf (the sad state of self-conscious book buying), yet even with a healthy to-be-read pile, I'm still tempted to get more. There's the smell of bookstores and the possibility of finding something new or weird or obscure hidden away somewhere. There is the infinite availability of anything you want online. There are those books that I had once but lost, and I'm not sure if I really want to read them again, but I want them again. I want them on my shelf. I want to be able to look at my shelf and see them there.

I worry when I think about what this might mean for me psychologically. Is this simply emotional security that I am attempting to purchase? Some lack I am filling? A way to distract myself from reality? Freud would claim that I have some lingering conflict from when I was toilet training.

Whatever the reason, I want more. I'll go through purges of books every now and then, but I'll always be back buying more.

This week I am...

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Nobrow 8: Hysteria edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (I linked to Amazon because it's sold out on the Nobrow site, but everything they put out is super tight)
The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists by Seth
Island 9-14 edited by Brandon Graham
Outcast 19-24 by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
Black Science 22-28 by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera

Fargo Season 1

The Jam

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mid-Winter Mopes

I've kind of been bumming out lately. Perhaps it's simply winter and the short days getting to me. There is this frustration with all the work I do. I'll grow bored with one project and daydream about another project, but if I switch it up and decide to focus on the daydream project, the same boredom will set in. This results in my mind swinging back and forth from sketchbook to sketchbook, idea to idea, never holding on to one long enough to have anything come of it. I get bogged down, and I think that everything I've done is stupid.

I tell myself that I should just take a break and forget all this comic book stuff for awhile, but it's hard. I always want to be drawing. There are all these half ideas that ask to become full ideas.

And here's what I'm...

I-Robot by Isaac Asimov
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Pluto Vol. 4-8 by Naoki Urasawa
Epoxy 3 by John Pham
Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses Issues 15-20 by David Lapham
Nobrow 8: Hysteria edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (I linked to Amazon because it's sold out on the Nobrow site, but everything they put out is super tight)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 2
Batman Returns
Midnight Special

Hideous Energy
Code Switch
Heaven 17

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Little Red Book

After I finished Hedra, I knew I wanted to do a follow up, not a literal sequel, but something of a stylistic continuation. I bought this red Moleskine that would only be used for the project. I stamped the date I bought it on the front page, March 21, 2016. The first pages are filled with Hedra-like grids and scenes of submerged cities with stylized Great Wave Off Kanagawa waters. There's a circus ship filled with clowns, giants, elephants, and an evil lion tamer. There are notes on Joseph Campbell's monomyth. There is a giant fish and scenes within the fish's belly. There's a character who carves the fish out of wood and gives them life, ancient turtles, and an anatomical man I called The Glass Eater.

But now the story has evolved. It follows a fledgling magician who steals a master magician's staff. There's almost no relation to the original ideas. I've also returned to the writing method that I've used on and off for the last five years or so. I sit down with a blank page and make it up as I go without worrying about layouts or grids. It really isn't a continuation of what I was doing in Hedra at all.

I've never kept a project confined to one single book and it's turned into an interesting (to me at least) document of my creative process.

And here's what I am:

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler
I-Robot by Isaac Asimov
Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti
Jinchalo by Matthew Forsythe
Further Grickle by Graham Annable
Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell
The Girl and the Gorilla by Madéleine Flores
Map of Days by Robert Hunter
Mister Wonderful by Dan Clowes

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Secret Lives of Pets

Hideous Energy
Chance the Rapper

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Boring Part

Finishing a project is always the hardest part for me. Mainly, this is because I also find it the most boring part of any project. All the inspiration, creativity, and experimentation are over and done with, which leaves only the details. At the moment, the detail I'm dealing with is blocking out colors. There are 134 pages that need to be blocked out, and it's just not fun and I don't want to do it. I want to do anything else. I want to start new projects. I want to revisit other projects. I want to become more informed about wine. I want to rearrange my apartment. I want to do anything that does not involve blocking colors.

My procrastination has taken on very complicated forms. Things that I normally procrastinate over, like giving the bathtub a good scrubbing, are now things that I use to procrastinate over blocking out colors.

And it's really not that hard. It's easy really. It's much easier than scrubbing a bathtub. It just involves sitting down and doing it.

And here's what I (possibly as a form of procrastination) am...

Monster Vol. 7, 8, 9 - Naoki Urasawa
Pluto Vol. 1, 2 - Naoki Urasawa
Bloodchild and Other Stories - Octavia Butler

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Boss
Sneaky Pete
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Rupaul What's the Tee
Talk is Jericho

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Three Colors

Making my robot stamp awhile back has gotten me motivated to make more. I even have ideas of trying to do a whole comic in stamps. I have no idea what the comic would be about, but it would definitely have to be short, eight pages max probably.

But the robot stamp made me see some of the possibilities with layered stamps that I hadn't really thought of or taken advantage of, so I wanted to try and get more complex coloring on my next.

I started with a pencil drawing that I thought would make a good stamp. Then I flipped it over onto the rubber stamps and rubbed the back to transfer to the lead to the rubber. I find rubber stamping material really difficult to draw on, so this is much easier. Also, using the same image as a base should make registering easier.

Then a bunch of cutting into the rubber.

My first pass ended up a little muddy, so I added some empty spaces to bring out more depth.

I use these pads from Distress Ink, which is a really stupid name, which is in turn written in a really stupid font that looks like it could have been used for the titles of the first season of The Real World on MTV. On the upside, and much less superficially, they come in a pretty wide variety of colors, and can be bought in these little sampler four packs for cheap. They don't lay down ink super smoothly, which means you won't get a super solid color, but it also means that you can mix and potentially get fades on a layer.

The final result, which didn't come out exactly as I would have liked it, did succeed in taking the three ink colors and with overlays turning them into roughly seven colors.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Learn How to Draw Snakes

I've been doing a lot of really detailed heavily crosshatched drawings of late, which are in preparation for this fantasy story that I'm getting ready to do. The story follows a warrior cut by a poisoned sword who has to enter an evil castle in order to find a cure.

I'm planning on a length of 48 pages with most of the pages being splash pages. It's a different kind of storytelling from what I have done before.

Before I get to that I have an eight page prologue in mind, which will function as a stylistic test. I'm still not sure how big I will be drawing this, but probably at around nine by twelve. Crosshatching is so time consuming, and the bigger I draw the more torturous it will be.

These are some raw notes on the sequence of the prologue.

These are thumbnails of what I imagine the full eight pages will be. It's looking like five splash pages. I hope to start on these in the next week or so.