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.

Breaking the Seal

I’m a huge fan of comic-centric work journals such as Gelatometti (the Wildstorm Studios moblog) and Matt Fraction’s Poplife from back in the day, and though I already have an account over at DeviantArt, I figured having my own little nook would be interesting—my own little cottage next to the cramped apartment, as it were.

This work journal is meant to give any and all (if any at all) who are interested a peek behind the curtain at my work process, my work “ethic” (snicker), and the things I do to—how you say?—keep them pencils sharp.

When you think about making a living and specifically living comfortably, an artistic profession is not what readily comes to people’s minds. For many actually, it’s all but synonymous to a one-way route to Loserville. But understand that artistry is no mere profession. It is no mere title or label.

Art is a choice.

My name’s John. I draw comics.