Noise

It’s always there. Waiting. Mountain lion to your biker. Housefly to your warm apple pie. Mousetrap to your… mouse. I’m talking about distractions. They seem to be in cahoots with Murphy’s Law as to the absolute right time to strike and cripple my progress train.

I won’t be able to do the last page of my Next Wave sequentials quite yet coz I got assigned a bunch of tasks by this company I’ve been working hard to get into. I used to tell my college professors I’d get by just drawing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, that was before I had bills to pay. It’s not a comic-related job, this, but it’s the most promising illustration gig in town I could find. Managed not to make too big of an ass of myself at today’s meeting. Hope they bite. Also, if all goes well, I may be able to land an arrangement that will allow me to work from home a few days out of a week. Fuck-Win-Yay if that pushes through.

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I drink milk from a Bud Light glass.

Hardcore.

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I’m wondering if the 11×17-inch standard working size for comic pages is really mandatory. I’ve drawn on 8×11.5 (half the size above) since I started drawing sequentials seriously at the age of twelve, and it (to me anyway) comes out looking fine. I like to think I do details well enough. I don’t go all David Finch or Platt anyway, I tend to do simple bold lines a la Immonen or Ringo (bless you)… so maybe I can get away with working on paper slightly larger than actual print size. Should remember to ask an editor about that.

Anyway, yeah. I have to take a quick break from the NextWave stuff for dayjob reasons for a bit.  But I already have some studies for the monster who will appear in the last page. And i’m quite happy with how that turned out. Chaz is busy coloring a piece I drew for some Steampunk fairytale contest thing we’re participating in purely for shits and giggles. Santini’s drawn his half of our collaborative piece. Viking Vemp and I are still planning our joint drawing. More on these and the final NextWave page in a couple of days.

Hopefully. Hope hope hope.

Two Days in My Pants

Posting some pics taken via my shitty pantsphone. Pardon the quality. Hung out with Alex and Leandro for a drink and draw session over the weekend. Pimptastic Fizzy and the Chaz showed up a bit later, but I was either busy drinking or drawing boobs at that point.

We argue about using blue pencils for construction, the convo never goes anywhere. Everyone forgets how to get rid of the construction lines in Photoshop. And I find the paper too waxy by the time I start inking. We suck at all that artsy fartsy shit, so we feast on chopped and spiced up pig face. No really. Then we dick around the second level of our new dive. I personally like the balcony, in this place ironically called, in this week of capsizing superferries, PIER ONE. All this while Frank/Fengshen rages across the upper parts of the country… and a little bit outside our drinking area. Sea Legs by The Shins plays on my pod.

Frank blows.

This Guy and This Guy.

Also today, I finally got that tattoo design out of the way. I ended up leaning toward something very Alfonso Mucha, but there’s not much you can do Nouveau with an anchor for a subject. Excuses excuses. (Ssshh….)

All is well today….

But what really made it all worthwhile was this pic I automagically acquired over the weekend. See, we live in Cebu. And all the artists know each other. And there’s quite a few of us. So what’s the point of knowing all these talents if we can’t poke fun at each other every now and then? That said…

Bleedman vs Gravity.

I Spoke to the Goblin and He Said “Tattooo…”

Closing in on the homestretch of my Next Wave sequentials. Can’t wait to send those over to the people who need to see it — partially coz I wanna hear what they have to say and what I fucked up, mostly because I just want it out of the way already. Plus there’s a monster splash in the last page I wanna get to, but some studies are in order before I get there. Wouldn’t wanna offend his cult (hint hint).

Already thinking about what set of sequentials I should do next. Any ideas? Or maybe a tribute piece in-between. I was playing with the idea of a quick Next Wave vs Thunderbolts piece, but we’ll see.

Speaking of Thunderbolts, I love Ellis’s run. Gargan’s a man-eating bastard, Swordsman’s an incestuous freak, and Penance is just a total wreck. But I went nuts over 120 — where Norman’s screws come loose again. Deodato can do no wrong in that book. Norman Osborne’s awesomeness is so firmly engraved in my mind that I just had to do this intersketch as I was wrapping up a panel with all five agents of H.A.T.E. in a Kevin Maguire-esque down shot.

Left pencils pretty loose coz i knew I was taking it all the way to inks myself anyway. If someone else was going to ink it, I would have made my pencils a lot tighter.

Decided on an upwards light source with a shitload of hatching. I needed the shading exercise, also it just looked cool. Heh. Then I decided to murder it with some toning.

I’ve got a tattoo commission to work on today. It’s gotta have a fairy…person sitting on a beat-up old anchor. Still tossing the idea of making the sprite Bisley or Mucha. Hardcore or Nouveau. We’ll see.

Add me up on Twitter: JohnAmor

Laters.

Intersketching

I recently woke up to the fact that I get bored waaay too easily when I’m working on only one piece at a time. ADD much? I tried to remedy it by skipping from panel to panel within a page. Failing that because the linear…ness of the plot made it feel like I was still doing the same thing, I tried skipping from page to page. I’d work on the fight sequence on page fifteen and, when it got tedious, I’d skip back to the establishment and build-up on page seven.

Bad idea.

This broke story momentum more often than not. So yeah, taking breaks from a page by skipping to other pages within the same book is a bad idea. It kills the flow. So what I did yesterday, I took breaks between panels by sketching something totally unrelated to what I was working on, on a clean new sheet of paper. Well maybe not totally unrelated, but it had enough of a thematic separation to keep things interesting and fresh for me. As a result, I didn’t feel the fatigue, and the monotony didn’t step in. The logic behind it all was that I was taking a breather from a sequential page by drawing a pin-up. And I was taking a break from the pin-up by doing the sequential. In essence, my afternoon was a productive series of interspersed breaks. And I got. Shit. Done.

The fourth Next Wave page is in the can, and here’s the Impulse piece I finished while doing so. It’s not the best comp I’ve ever done, but at least it’s something to work on.

And since I knew this wasn’t the main piece, Ta-DAAAH, I inked again. Clumsy, I know… but it kept me occupied.

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