Eyeballing Escher

I know I said I’d post a day after the previous entry, but I got sick. I’m still sick. Bronchitis or some shit, what’re ya gonna do? heh. I’ve missed three days of work. I am so fired. Which would matter if I had plans of staying there, which I don’t. It ain’t an arty job. I know, I know. Picky shmicky.

Funny story: Prior to me getting sick, I had already been suffering from a work worm. You ever get those? That throbbing in your head that you get from lack of sleep? Lack of sleep that’s caused be the knowledge that you’re not getting any real work done? Work worm. I like it. I got it coz I’d been neglecting my NEXT WAVE pages for some paying gigs. No, I’m not happy about it. A comic gig is still the top priority. Cebulski already showed the first three pages to some editors, and well, let’s just say I NEED TO GET THE REST DONE. Some Marvel Adventures titles are opening up soon. I need to get off my ass.

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For now I’m keeping busy with a project assigned to me by some contacts. In a nutshell, I need to adapt an M.C. Escher piece into… well… something else. First thing in my head was Are you kidding me? Second thing was Are you FUCKING kidding me? My printer’s busted, and I have no time to get the Wacom from Bossman Jeff. So I’m eyeballing the fuck out of this thing. Back to comics when all this hoohah is done.

Ohhh gaaaaawwwd…

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East West Exiles has just gone live — it’s a site the viceroys and I have put up to keep in touch, what with everybody being busy and all. Check it out.

Laters.

Them Plans

So I haven’t updated in a while. Heck, I haven’t touched a pencil in pretty much a month. I know, I know. That sucks. But it’s cool now. Things are finally getting back on track after the May vacation. The hiatus… from… stuff. Co-genius Matt and I are fast-tracking INSTRUMENTS — a series I can best describe (without giving too much away) as… well… Shonen. Look it up. Shonen, but not. I don’t know. Pray it gets Larsen’s thumbs-up, I guess — which has basically been in production for close to three years now. I can feel the Image pitch engraved in my bones. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll figure something out.

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My sister and I are putting together a screenplay, and the concept of it is pretty much what holds it all together, so I can’t delve into specifics. I’m not quite sure if it’s an art film though. Kafka meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Silence of the Lambs meets Donnie Darko… I don’t know. I haven’t seen my sis since Christmas. She lives up North, in Manila, where the story’s supposedly gonna be set. So I might have to go up there sometime within the next few months to get a feel for the place. I already hate it there though. Research on the screenplay per se starts this week.

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EAST WEST, the pub which me, Viking, Leandro, Fizzy, Flimflam, and all the other Viceroys have been patrons of for about four or five years, has closed. End of an era and all that shit. Gotta find us a new haunt, and soon.

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Things are happening. Nice things. To me. Yay! But I need to decide between the job I know I’ll like and the job I know I’ll learn something from. Something I can use for this thing I’m working on. Which brings me to…

This thing the Viceroys and I have been talking about. It’s pretty much us saying fuck it and starting up our own business. You can only paint other people’s houses for so long before you start wanting to build a house of your own, yeah?

Let’s talk NEXT WAVE, Marvel, and my work worm tomorrow…

But hey look, pencilled this today… my excuse for it being a bit of a mess is, again, the fact that I haven’t drawn in a month. Anyway, yeah…

The Bastards are Back

It doesn’t hit me till the drinks arrive that this is the first time the boys have all gotten together again in, what, three, four years? The old days with the band never did seem very simple seen through the juvenile goggles we had then. God were we stupid. But this is now. We have better goggles now. We’re less stupid now. Primer’s back from North Carolina, which makes SuperPinch (and that’s pronounced Japanese style, SUPAH PINCHU!) and FlimFlam civil enough with each other to want to come chill with me and Fizzy. We drink. We laugh. We make fun of each other and piss each other off, but then we remember that Primer’s only here for the month, so we laugh and let everything slide. It’s a good night.

SuperPinch is an expectant baby daddy. Fizzy’s started up this fencing school, and judging by his students’ gear I had to sit beside in the back of his car, I’d say he’s pretty serious about it. Fucking swords poking my ribs. FlimFlam’s the only one left still pursuing a band career, but it’s a showband. Fuck that. I tell him he rocks. He laughs. Primer’s finishing a degree in ‘puters. If he stays smart, in a few years, he will help fit the world in people’s pockets.

I draw comics.

Beer brings giants together.

I’m reminded of the time co-genius Matt and myself drank ourselves silly at three in the afternoon in a little store down the street from my house. We had just come home from night shifts, were overpaid, and hated our jobs. So yeah. We drank. So much so that we made the clerks nervous till we hit our ceilings and started talking seriously. This is when INSTRUMENTS started forming. This is when we decided what we wanted to do.

Beer makes things happen.

More on that later.

I’m in a weird place with my Nextwave pages. I already know how it’s all going to look, so I’m not too excited by it. That’s not a good sign. No, it isn’t. Which begs to ask whether I should receive scripts a page at a time to keep myself interested. But then that blows pacing sensibilities. Fuck fuck FUCK! But I don’t know. My heart’s a bit out of it, so I’d rather not even try and end up with something I know I’ll hate. I know something resoundingly Romita will boom outta the clouds one of these days and tell me, in an echoey Brooklyn accent, to just fucking do the pages. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Until then, I fail.

Nextwave Sequentials (Part 1)

Saw Iron Man a few days ago. And as weird as it was to see him strike that ballerina pose everytime he got ready to take off, the film is fucking brilliant. It delivers on so many levels, some of which I wasn’t even expecting, that I literally left the theatre an Iron Man fan. I honestly wasn’t one when I walked in, but Downey’s one of my faves, so yeah. Now I’m psyched for Fraction’s run. Good watch, good watch.

And as promised, I’m now posting the Nextwave pages I said I was working on as samples. Cebulski says to keep sending him updates on whatever I’m working on, so fair enough and sure enough, here I am. I came up with a six-page plot to use. I’m afraid to use the word script, since this is more of a sequence of events than an actual story or whatnot. Though, ironically, it serves the purpose of showing off storytelling skills. Heh-hah. I happen to think that conveying conversations interestingly is one of my strengths, and I honestly enjoy those more than slugfests. I’m weird. So hey look…

Page 1
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Panel 1 (Big Panel)

It’s about high noon. The Shockwave Rider skims across ocean surface at high speed. In the distance, we see an oil rig. Just as a point of interest in the background. It won’t have anything to do with the plot. Note, the ship is more or less flying toward us.

Panel 2
Interior establishing shot of the ship. Monica and Aaron are piloting the ship, heavy concentration apparent in Monica’s face. Aaron’s just being Aaron. Elsa, Tabby, and Cap are just chillin’ in the background.

Monica: “Look alive, people.”

Page 2
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Panel 1
Shot of Monica putting the ship on autopilot as she gets up from her seat. Leave a lot of space open for her monologue as she is briefing the team at the same time.

Panel 2
Aaron quips like the asshole he is.

Panel 3
Aaron is looking back at the team from his seat (slowly getting off his seat as well), explaining the nuances of the mission further and questioning monica’s leadership. Aaron explains the mission a bit more and just how serious the threat is. Based on what he adds to the brief, it sounds like this could be their last mission ever… and it scares the shit out of Cap and Tabby.

Panel 4
In the background, we see Cap and Tabby having church giggles; while in the foreground, Monica’s got an “Excuse me?!?” expression, but still calm and in control.

Page 3
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Panel 1
Big shot of Elsa in a hero pose, Aaron is just coming into the panel (from the cockpit) and making like he’s endorsing her as the deserving team leader— which he thinks makes sense coz most of the dangers they face are monsters.

Panel 2
Shot of Aaron whispering something flirtatious to Elsa.
Something along the lines of “I have very many useful robot parts…” from issue 2.

Panel 3
Elsa pretty much telling Aaron to fuck off.
Also, Cap is agreeing with what Aaron just said, but…

Panel 4
Elsa tells Cap to fuck off too.

And these are the thumbnails I did before I jumped into the pages. They were done on 2×3 inch post-its, as that’s kindasorta the same proportion as a standard comicbook page. Obviously, they’re pretty rough. In all honesty, these are some of the cleanest thumbnails I’ve ever done. My roughest ones are usually decipherable only by me. Heee. I usually do the panel borders in ink, so that they don’t smudge over and lose definition as time passes. The interiors are always in pencils, because I rely on the blocked shapes within rather than the details, so whether it smudges or not, it’s all good.


And now pages 1-3 (Click thumbnails for larger views)

And here’s a list of differences between the thumbnails and the finished pencils as well as the reasons behind ’em:

Page 1, panel 2: I decided not to show Monica’s hands on the console anymore, because I wanted to establish that Aaron was the one driving. Him being a robot and all, it only makes sense that he has that chore, yeah? Just like Bishop did. Lance Henriksen. Not the X-man.

Page 2, panel 2: Opted to do a simple profile shot of Aaron as he speaks so that it feels like after panel one, the camera doesn’t change position but just zooms in to him, as he’s sitting right to the left of where Monica is getting up from.

Page 2, panel 3: Kept The Captain seated so that our view of Monica doesn’t get obstructed. I also moved everyone more to the right to create more space on the left for what Aaron is saying.


Page 3, panel 1: I decided not to put Elsa in a hero pose, coz it just didn’t make a lot of sense that she would strike one. In a ship. So I just changed it to a semi-hero pose in which she’s, like, checking her gear and stuff. To me, it still looks like she’s posing, but nothing too flashy. I also minimized our view of the Captain, coz I wanted him to sort of disappear, so that when he butts in again in panel 3, it feels more surprising.

Page 3, panel 3: Pulled a tighter shot on Elsa so that it doesn’t look too similar to how she’s positioned in panel 1.

That’s that for the first half of this sequential set. I hate the fact that I’m going so slow on these, but work’s been a bitch lately. Gotta pay the bills after all. Also, when I do begin page 4-6, I should also prep for that little caricature project I plan to show Ellis. Ssshhh…

My Comic Event Wishlist

I got a bit bored at my Clark Kent job today, so I thought up a little ditty of a list of the top ten comic-related things I would like to see… and soon damn it!!! … in no particular order.

1.) Tim Roth and Ewan McGregor vying for a Spider Jerusalem role

2.) Pixar and Timm Studios announcing collaborations

3.) Matt Fraction on Nextwave; Stuart Immonen on Teen Titans

4.) Frazetta Films

5.) A Big Summer Event with a Definite End and Lasting Repercussions

6.) A Good Spider-man Film

7.) “Back to the Future” Comics

8.) Hawkman Done Well

9.) Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire Back Together… on ANYTHING!

10.) A Warren Ellis Figure Among Artists

Trades vs Monthlies

Am slightly stricken by the fact that there’s an actual discussion about trade paperbacks replacing monthlies. What’s even more disturbing is that some people think that the trades actually are a better way to go. Been visiting www.pulpsecret.com a lot lately, coz their live reviews and the fact that it always takes about five minutes to make a point is always amusing.

Pete LePage is a leader of men.

But anyway.

The argument is that trades would be better because it will increase the chances of only good stories coming out, as opposed to monthlies, which are a primarily deadline-driven medium. I admit that’s a fair point, but it sucks coz it decreases the chances of new creators getting the attention they need to grow. Someone even asked, if I remember correctly, “Do you think DC would have let the team that started this new volume of Blue Beetle get straight into TPBs?” Of course not.

One thing I feel was overlooked is the role of the 30-day waiting period that comes with comic book fandom. The cliffhanger syndrome. Anyone will tell you that half the fun (if you can call it that) is reading an awesome last page and wanting the next issue so bad. An only-trades market would totally destroy that, because everything will be done in one. An admittedly LONG done in one, but you know what I mean.
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I’m not working as fast as I want to on these Nextwave pages that I mentioned I’d do as samples… mainly due to obligations on other sites… and there’s work, of course; but I already am piping down to page 3. I’d say I’m rolling along nicely. Not as nicely as I’d initially hoped speed-wise, but I’m definitely happy with the look of the pages so far.
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The gang doesn’t get to hang in the usual pub Sunday. The place apparently ran fresh out of potatoes the day before, and a brew session with the boys just doesn’t work without our mojos. Okay, that didn’t sound right. I sign copies of Wonderlost 2 for a couple of friends. My signature is an indecisive rooster’s tap dance after he’s stepped in a bottle of India ink.

Speaking of ink, I got some new pens and crap for my day job today. Decided to break them in with a return to inking. I quite literally have not inked a piece in years, since I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on my pencils and try to bring it to a certain level I’ll be happy with. Videos of Jim Lee’s gelatometti Iron Chef challenges replay in my head as I think about what he said about inks being the best quick sketch tools. Ironic, I know. But it tends to lend a look of… I don’t know… completeness… I’m tempted to say “weight”…to a five-minute piece.

These were obviously touched up a bit with Photoshop. Heh.

But yeah… I’m definitely a pencils guy.

Joe-Cat Juju

Been getting a lot of helpful feedback from editors lately. Stuff I should continue doing, stuff I should develop (a.k.a. “just toss out and replace with something better”). They tell me via chat and email that I am among the top twenty-to-fifteen artists that stood out in Chesterquest. Encouraging news, that. Comforting, at least. I’ll keep it as a blanket for a while. Am now in a list of “alternates” who are waiting for projects to be tossed our way. They’re real friendly about it and making sure I know that I’m being considered for future projects. You guuuuuyysss…

I receive my copies of Wonderlost 2 in the mail. My first published semi-pro work. My goose pimples get heart attacks. I read it on my way to work and am slightly humbled by all of C.B. Cebulski’s women. Way to live, Ceeb. Who says comic geeks don’t get any???

Lovin’.

I jump into more sequential samples. Write a six-page Nextwave sample plot (not a script per se) that test a lot of the artist’s group interaction illustration skills. I’ll be posting the script here once I’m done with page three. I’ll be posting the pages thereafter.
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I recently finished a requested piece (via DA) for a friend over in Taiwan. He dared me to draw some G.I. Joe characters fighting some WildC.A.T.s. Here’s a very concise peek at what went into that.

I decided to use Cats Warblade, Zealot, and Grifter, since they are the most combat-ready of the group; while from the Joes I chose Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Tunnel Rat (initially). Below is the thumbnail I made to visualize the image. I always find it very helpful to do about two or three variations of the image I have in my head. This was the most decent of the three.

Not to get too artsy-fartsy, but whenever I know I have a large composition for a cover or pin-up, I always fall back onto the Rule of Thirds. This allows for a really balanced and (at least) professional-looking compo. You’ll notice that each character is more or less in a sector of his/her own.

The final piece, though essentially true to the thumbnail I used, had a lot of modifications. Snake Eyes’s arms are different, because I realized half way through the drawing process that his right wrist (in the thumbnail) looked like it was about to break. Not good. I scrapped Tunnel Rat and went for Beach Head, coz the latter’s lack of gear allowed for a more dynamic pose. Plus he’s a much better opponent for Grifter.

Lastly, I sorta stretched Zealot out a bit more to make her look more like she was straining. Buscema’s lessons from the good book came in handy there. Lotsa stuff I ended up unhappy with in this piece, but it’s generally decent, I think, and it was a good fun trip down fanboy country. Where them senseless crossovers happen.

Back to them Nextwave pages.

Under the Influence(s)

For a good while now, Sundays have meant Drink and Draw Sessions for me and a couple of fellow artists here in Cebu. It’s always good to be able to take a break from the work week with fellow bastards, yeah? It’s also healthy to mix two of your favorite activities into an afternoon of decadence, yeah? If i knew any cute female artists who drank as much as me and the boys, my life would be complete. Sorta. Kat‘s not here anymore, and she’s married! Damn it!

Viking Gamer Man can’t make it on account of his being a tool who prefers to drink with officemates after spending the whole week with them already. Mike and Leandro show up. We pick up pencils and spend the afternoon drawing crap and making fun of things — each other’s art not excluded.

Along the way, Leandro points out to me that perhaps it would be best if i ditched the Madureira flavor my art as it is tends to scream. I can’t help it. Joe Mad was practically the first artist I really noticed as I was getting serious about my craft. Him and Jason Pearson.

And it makes me sick sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love their styles. They will always be my favorite artists, but in a medium as fickle and shallow as comic books, I have to admit that Leandro’s words rang back and forth on my braintongue as I tried to justify why I was drawing how I was drawing what i was drawing.

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Influences are healthy… just as idolizing is healthy. And though I don’t see myself as a clone, I’m definitely trying to distance myself as much as possible so as not to make the influence so obvious that even my originals and non-referenced stuff look like swipes. I’ve seen it happen to other people, it’s not pretty.

Been studying and digesting a lot of Immonen, Ottley, and the guy who does Brit lately (I’m sorry, I’m sorry…), and if all goes well, I’ll end up with a manga-esque style that’s blocky yet smooth (it’ll be that weird) and comes across as high-energy. A pinch of Gabriel Ba wouldn’t hurt. Middleton for sure. Leinil and Mignola’s black-spotting for good measure. Hughes’s women. Maybe even Campbell’s acting. Coz, well, all this reminds me of a question a friend asked me back in high school. He asked if I wanted to be the next Jim Lee. And I don’t know. I guess It’d just be nice to at least maybe be the first and only “John Amor” so to speak.

Nightcrawler studies from yesterday.

Waiting on the Wonder

So I’m still waiting for Wonderlost 2 to come out. Sent finished pages off to C.B. Cebulski back in early December 2007. For those of you who don’t follow indie titles, Wonderlost is pretty much C.B.’s autobio piece. The first issue (which I ordered for research and stuff once I got the gig) was released in January of 2007. It had stuff by Alina Urusov, Khoi Pham, Ethan Young, and a few other talents. Great cover by Leinil Yu.

Issue two, to my knowledge, is currently in mid-production. Printing or something. It’s my first official professional gig with an actual publisher, so I’m pretty much all shits and giggles over it. Pride button engaged. Small steps, I suppose. Here’s a pic of the cover by Steve McNiven.