Marriage

Hah! Made you look.  No, I’m not getting married yet.  I hear the first step to doing that is getting a girlfriend, but I haven’t had one in years.  Comics and art (the mean mistress!!!) have been eating up a lot of my time lately, so the social life has gone out the window.  This entry’s title isn’t totally inaccurate though, coz I’ve been spending a lot of time technically marrying my two stylistic influences into something I can call my own.  Or trying, at least.

Realistic vs Abstract/Cartoony.  Which is better?  Which sells?  Which makes for better storytelling?  It’s taken me this long to realize that the answer is neither.  Realistic adds a lot of believabilty to a scene, that’s a given, but the abstract style can pull off fantastic exaggerations in mood.  Mignola plays a delicate balance between the two and it works exquistely in Hellboy.  Realistic allows for your characters to be more relatable in whatever outlandish situation you put them in, but being able to rubberize their expressions and gestures makes for an incredibly broad spectrum of emotion and dynamism.  Stuart Immonen plays with this and kicks serious ass every time a new issue of Ultimate Spidey hits the stands.  Then I read it, cry in my bath tub, then slash my penis with a razorblade.

These are just two of the points as to why a stylistic marriage would come out awesome, and I’m pretty sure there are countless others.

Having said that, I’ve been trying my best two fuse the two sentimentalities into something I can call my own.  I’ve talked about this in a previous entry, Shapes, and I doubt I’ll stop talking about it anytime soon.  Been re-reading a lot of old MAD magazines to study Mort Drucker’s great caricature work.  Good stuff.

Anyway… here are last week’s dailies:

nightcrawlerMONDAY: Kicked off Marvel week with my favorite X-Man, Nightcrawler.  He’s always been visually interesting and there’s never a shortage of cool poses to use on him.  Spooky and athletic, in my head he’s like Batman and Spidey combined.

red-skullTUESDAY: Nothing special to say about this piece.  I don’t read Captain America, and I’m not a WWII buff.  I just wanted to do a villain portrait.  Call it an M.O.

spiderwomanWEDNESDAY: Well I had to do something to counter Power Girl from last week, right? And Spider Woman is hands down the hottest superlady in Marvel right now.  Never mind that she’s a Skrull Queen bent on enslaving us, still teh hawt. I might’ve oversized her boobies though — complaints?

lokiTHURSDAY: Loki.  As a woman.  I know, I know.

logan-poseFRIDAY: Fridays are always hectic for me coz that’s when I tend to fill my page quotas for the week, plus I do the podcast with my buddies.  So from now on, I’ll devote Fridays to pose studies and the like.  I’m sure you all can tell from looking at the logan sketch that my anatomy in the arm area could use a bit of work.  but yeah, doing things like this every once in a while will definitely help make my poses more dynamic and shit.

::: ::: ::: Tres Komikeros episode 11 ::: ::: :::

Lastly, any Zuda lovers in the house?  Even if you’re not, it’ll be good for you to head on over to their site and vote for my buddy Justin Jordan’s comic, Rumors of War.

He died on the battlefield, giving his life for God and Country. Johnny died a hero, but he didn’t stay dead. He’s been taken from his dying place to another world, another place, where a war has raged since the beginning of time. Resurrected for a fight that he can barely understand, much less hope to survive. Here, even death is no end to a soldier’s fight, the dead and dying returned to fight again and again. The Enemy is monstrous and the Ally is worse.


Housed

Getting caught up on House episodes. I was relatively late to the whole TV-series thing, and so I’ve got a whole zoo of stuff I’m yet to watch.  The Shield, CSI, The Wire, The Sopranos — you name it, I haven’t seen it.  Unless it’s Entourage, which is the shit.  My brother collects DVDs as opposed to my comics, so I sure don’t have a problem getting new flicks and shows.  I should do a “things I watch(ed)” journal entry or whatever.  Currently on season two of House. The Leonard-Laurie bromance is always fun.  Doc Cameron is hot.  And the soundtrack is flawless.  Good show.  Apparently a coupla years’ worth of Emmys can’t be wrong.

doc-cameronWoof!

In one episode, Hugh Laurie goes, “I don’t work hard.  I work smart.”

Ouch.

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Internet did it’s job perfectly and very efficiently distracted me from work this week.  And that’s not even counting the hours I spent Wednesday morning glued to CNN for the election coverage.  So… no, not a very productive week, work-wise.  Only got a total of two (maybe three, if I tighten this WWII scene tonight) inked pages of OVERTHROW! out the door, though I did get to do revisions on some old pages.  I’m quite happy with how those turned out, so it ain’t all bad.  I’ve apparently arrived at some action scenes in the issue (finally!), and I work fairly quickly through those.  For some reason though, I always hit a slump after every action page.  I don’t quite know why that is yet, but the pre-work warm ups are definitely helping me not to cool too far down. More on those later.

Taking my sweet time with the concept sketches for the horror project. I’ve stumbled upon an approach that has somehow allowed me to maintain my style but adopt a whole new aesthetic to it. It’s subtle, but it’s there.  Been studying the little differences in Humberto Ramos’ work between Crimson and X-men, that sorta thing.  Buncha Hellboy trades are helping too.

::: Tres Komikeros Episode 10 :::

I said I’d do a  sketch a day this week, and so far it has helped a lot in getting me in the groove in the mornings (read 2 pm… heh…), so here they are, along with some commentary.  They each took about an hour tops, that being the time limit I gave myself, me being great with deadlines and all:

sinestro-11-03-08-bbMONDAY: I read a Red Lanterns book for last week’s podcast and I just suddenly found Sinestro cool, despite me never having been a fan.  This is a shot of him inviting you to be part of his corps.  My foreshortening needs work.

darkseid-11-04-08-bbTUESDAY: Again, inspired by a previous episode of the podcast, I couldn’t resist doing a Darkseid piece after seeing the last page of Final Crisis #4.  Nothing special to say about this though, it was just fun.

crichton-tribute-by-john-amorWEDNESDAY: Michael Crichton’s books and resultant films played a pivotal role in me getting serious about art — this was for him.

power-girl-11-05-08-bbTHURSDAY: Election day, so I couldn’t resist writing a little something extra on PG’s cape… clasp… thing.  She’s actually a bit tough to draw without making her look top-heavy.  i might’ve fucked this up.

zatanna-11-07-08-bbFRIDAY: Took a suggestion from Viking Alex so I wouldn’t end up choosing easy characters to draw.  Having lotsa blacks on a character is always fun… and speedy!

Marvel stuff next week.

All… part of the plan…

It’s finally November. Haven’t been able to post a lot of art lately coz I’ve been spending most of my time doing stuff that I’m not allowed to show. Can’t reveal shit, can’t tell anyone or the terrorists win.  Justin’s been compromising national security by showing off inked OVERTHROW! pages on his blog though, which now feels to me like I’m standing naked in the snow, seeing as how Paul Little’s colors add so much to my drab crap.  Feeling pretty confident that OVERTHROW! #1 (or most of it) can be wrapped up before MASK of MANOLO #2 kicks in. On that note, I’m posting the cover for the first issue.  Solicits and website stuff along with the attendant artist profile juju should be up soon, I’ll make announcements here as I get the news myself.

Halloween is spent boozing up with cousins and siblings whilst re-watching old Filipino horror films.  Crispy chicken skin from the nearby grill went pretty damn well with the malt liquor.  Costume parties aren’t really our thing since we’re all just too damn lazy to put that shit together, but I live vicariously through my more disciplined friends, so I’m posting the costumes that didn’t completely suck balls:

1) Artist Paolo Gomez laying it on thick; 2) Komikero EJ Afzelius with his own brand of horror;

3) Artist/photographer Jan Rodriguez pays homage to Ledger; 4) Maia Layno  (opening voice-over for the Tres Komikeros podcast) ain’t sportin’ anything scary, but hell, I ain’t complaining.

:::Tres Komikeros Episode 8:::

:::Tres Komikeros Episode 9:::

Every single time I’ve picked up the pencil lately has been to either work or do stuff directly related to work. I’m happy as fuck for the influx (influck?), but I realize I’ve sorta been going about it the wrong way coz it’s burning me out to some extent. So November will see me trying out a sketch-a-day sort of thing. Y’know, just to loosen up every day before work. No script, no audience (well maybe you guys), no guidelines, no mission. Just me, a blank sheet, a pencil, and a small chunk of time.

I did this Intersketching thing before, I just need to pick up on it again. I stopped it when my old PC crapped out, and then I simply forgot about it when I was… blessed… with this new one. Anyway, this sketch-a-day shit is important to me coz I somehow forgot that before I had deadlines to meet and contracts to fulfill, it was all primarily about loving to draw — I somehow lost sight of that a little bit, so I’m starting the dailies again to remind myself of the childish thrill. It’ll also serve to polish the ol’ style somewhat, which won’t hurt.

Horror Classics: The Fallen Prince

Beer night at the Amor residence. Literally just got done drinking with a coupla siblings and their spouses. S’weird how much faster I work when I’ve got a buzz going. Skype’s a bit quiet tonight, and my ping ain’t good enough for me to play Counter-Strike. Here’s what I did instead after wrapping up my pages for the day.

Print available in my DA store. I’ve been meaning to do a theatrically-lit piece for some time now. Dracula just lent himself to the mood perfectly, so this piece was a ton of fun.

I’m really happy with it.

But I’ve been drinking.

So I’ll probably hate it in the morning.

Here’s a closer look at some of the detail though, just so I can remind myself that it’s okay to be happy about this piece and move on.

Overthrow! Page 3

Pretty much the first time we get a look at the hero of this series written by Justin Jordan. I made a conscious decision not to show the main character’s face. I’m just weird like that.

I still don’t love inking. But there’s definitely something to be said about a high-contrast image.

Seedling of Wisdom for the Day: Wu-Tang is for the children.

Horror Classics: The Cursed King

I grew up watching Harryhausen films and Rankin Bass cartoons, so I really enjoy drawing classic monsters and otherwordly creatures. Discovering Frank Frazetta’s art in Mad Magazine (the Blecch parody ad) at an early age led me to hunt down his stuff wherever I could, and that only fed the monster jonesing. About a year ago, I decided to pay tribute to a cartoon I grew up on by drawing some of the key villains in very “Concept Artsy” styles. Here are those pieces:

Thundercats Legends got a good dose of positive feedback on my DeviantArt account and practically got me enough attention to start doing some commissions. I’m no Bleedman, but it was great to be able to receive the appreciation.

Anyway… now, just about a year after I started Thundercats Legends, I’m starting Horror Classics, which will showcase my take on the classic icons of horror. This’ll allow me to both quench my desire to pay some sort of tribute to the monster movies I grew up with and use the techniques I learned from doing the Legends set.

The line art for this piece took pretty quick. I was worried at first that all the bandages would be a lot of work, but once I noted the overlaps and the contours of the form, it went somewhat smoothly.

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of toning my line art as well, so I can take cues as I proceed with the actual coloring process. This stage of preparation gives me a sense of where I’m going and enables me to not lose sight of my goal with the piece. Also, it just looks nice.

The actual coloring of the character involved a layer of noise that was blurred just enough so it looked like the actual drawing was uniformly shaded with a pencil. I essentially peeled away at this layer to “sculpt” the form, then applied some color overlays to apply tones. Finishing touches were mainly just dodge and burn tools. Getting the mouth to be the main focus, and not the golden snake, was a bit of a doozy… but I think it came out well. The burn tool also allowed me to emphasize some dark areas around his mouth — as a result, it looks kinda like he’s smiling if you look at him from a distance.

I applied a paper-ish texture as the background, since I want this set to seem like it’s all wanted posters or, failing that, old-style illustrations on scrolls.

The Cursed King is but the first in a seven-piece set. It is available as a print on my DeviantArt store.

Donning the Mask of Manolo

Just posting some process screenshots of the little online poster I did for Alveraz Ricardez’s MASK of MANOLO. I’m incredibly unorganized when I work in Photoshop, which is probably why I don’t do it very often, but I’m happy with how this piece came out.

Anyone see what I was listening to on Winamp? Haha.

Heh.

Anyway, the final piece can be viewed (along with other Patchwork Comic covers) here.

Must… earn… KEEP!

September’s looking to be a busy month for me as I have four projects coming down the pipelines. I know that sounds like a heck of a lot of work for a guy who took a whole month to finish six Next Wave sample pages, but I had a day job when I was working on those. Which I’ve thankfully quit since. So… yeah. (That’s right, Johnny. Repeat it like a mantra. You might even end up convincing yourself.) But yeah, this is what I do now, and this is probably the best I’ve felt since I started taking commissions on my DA a whole year ago.

A new publisher called Patchwork Comics is gunning for a January 2009 release date for about four titles, and I got lucky enough to be chosen by the head honcho to take part in that. My own original story pitches — ICELANDER, WOLF PACK SESSIONS, and BEAST BOY JOE (all just working titles) — have been shelved for the moment, but Alveraz Ricardez was kind enough to throw me a bone in the form of one of his own original stories.  MASK of MANOLO will be about a Don Quixote-esque child-hero in a more or less fantasy setting. And the best part? I’ve been granted a window of three days to finish each page! Schwing!

Also on my plate starting next month is a pitch issue for a series entitled OVERTHROW!, with an exclamation point.  Writer Justin Jordan, whose webcomic Junk is up on Zuda this month,  picked me to illustrate the story of a villain who has already won and a hero who has to face a sort of moral dillema about taking him down. Justin’s first e-mail to me had the word kicksplode. That pretty much won me over from the get go. You can view his work log here.

And the final comic project I was lucky enough to get chosen for is another pitch deal with Jared Koon. It’s a yet-untitled Sword and Sorcery story that I’m not allowed to really talk about just yet, so I’ll leave it at that for now

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So yeah. Whew.

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On the local front, co-genius Matt is slaving away, wrapping up the script for the first twelve-issue arc of our comic INSTRUMENTS, which we will be pitching to Image and whoever else when it’s all tight and shiny. Been talking to Derrick Fish a lot about exactly how this is done, but I’ll probably learn a lot from my current collaborators as well.

So I guess those Thor pages will have to wait. They were exciting as fuck, and I got goosebumps when I saw Asgard smoking in Secret Invasion: Thor #1, but I gotta pay the bills first. Still in contact with Cebulski though, which never hurts.

Anyway, a few random and recent sketches I did to warm up in the mornings:

About a year ago I did a fan-art series of portraits entitled Thundercats Legends. It was pretty much a labor of love in that they weren’t commissioned or anything, and I couldn’t sell them coz they were copyrighted. In the same vein as those pieces though, I’m working on a series tentatively titled Horror Classics, and you can pretty much guess what it’s gonna be about. I’ll be doing my takes on the classic monsters. ( Dracula, the Wolfman, etc., Thank you, Wikipedia, for your list of public domain characters. Heh. ) So I’m looking forward to those as breaks between the comic pages I’ll doubtless be swamped with. Here’s a preview of some studies though. Click big.

That’s it for now, guys. Wish me luck.

EDIT: Whoops! I almost forgot. I haz a new computarrr!

Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.53 GHz; 2 Gb of RAM. I am yet to get a new hard drive and maybe a new video card for… stuff… but this is the best PC I’ve ever had the privilege to use. Hands down. My buddy since frickin’ elementary school Andy Tan helped me get the individual parts from three different stores. Thanks, bud!

That blue light is uhmm… my biggest fan. No, really.

For the Kingdom

Letting my big brother, Roby, have a bit of the spotlight today. Here’s a huge tribute piece he did a while back, which has elements from covers one thru three of Waid and Ross’s Kingdom Come series under DC’s Elseworlds imprint. My teeth would probably melt if I tried something like this, so props to the man.

Hello, all. I did this piece ten years ago, a couple of months after KC came out. A real big fan of Alex Ross, I loved the way he did the covers for the first three books of his classic series. The way he decided to pose all major characters in one shot, as if done in a studio, added even more depth to already incredible artwork. It’s as if they all decided to take time out from their busy “superhero” lives just to pose for one iconic photo op. It made the whole piece come alive.    – Roby

Thor Sequentials (Part 1)

I didn’t bother writing a plot for this, since it’s pretty much going to be an action sequence anyway. Sorta. Not much going on in this first half, but I wanted to stretch some camera-placement muscles. I was listening to comic podcasts a lot while I was making these, and I forget who said it — either Hitch or Quitely —  but someone said it’s a good idea to do one difficult or new thing with every new page. It can be a camera angle, a blur effect, a shading style, a background element, whatever. As long as you try one thing new each time. S’great advice.

That’s it from me for now. As always, comments and criticisms are wildly welcome. (Oh but also, I added a Twitter feed on the right sidebar, waaaay under all the standard links and stuff. Check it out and add me up if you’re on there. Laters.)