Sniffles

Been a bit of a spell since I got to update on here, so if this entry feels terse and fragmented, I’m sorry… but then again, it’s me… so you should really detect no real change.  Huzzah!

June got a little hairy as Jad came down with dengue fever and had to be hospitalized for almost a week.  I had flown down to keep her company as best I could, but the beginning of the rainy season had taken a bit of a toll on me as well — nothing quite as serious, fortunately, but I ended up not getting to stay with her at the hospital as often as I would have wanted, lest I got sicker and became a liability.  That said, my evenings at the hotel were still miserable, but hardly anything compared to Jad’s ailment which, we later discovered, is nicknamed “bone breaking fever.”  They really went out of their way to sugar that one up.

I had bought her a copy of Arnold Arre’s MYTHOLOGY CLASS, and she says it at least took her mind off being sick, if only for precious increments.  With prayer and a whole lot of soldiering on her part, she made a full recovery in a week and celebrated by attacking a happy helping of roast pork.

Brought my flu home with me.  Nothing a week of antibiotics couldn’t handle, but because they were pretty potent peyote-type shaman juice, I couldn’t draw quite as fast as I wanted to because I was getting tremors like a caffeinated mouse in a church bell.  So yeah, work went ouchy.

I hate flu season.  All better now though.

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A month after Zuda ended its monthly competitions, they announce that the site itself was shutting down.  PRs and official emails indicate that it’s a decision straight from the higher-ups, made in conjunction with DC’s whole digital initiative.  And while long-running series such as HIGH MOON and BAYOU will be migrated, the newer ones had to be cancelled.  Oh well, them’s the breaks.  More recent interactions at least have DC doing right by us creators, as far as ownership and fair compensation goes.  And I’ll leave it at that.  Heh.

Still talking to Gabe and Matt about Comixology and Graphic.ly.  But I’m currently committing a lot more of my time to 1888 — the first issue of which is nearly half done, as far as line art goes.  Bricks and dead whores, baby!  That’s my suggested alt title, but I don’t think Wolfgang will go for it.  Will keep pushing.  Don’t stop believing.  Heh.

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While I was stuck in bed, I got to read a whole bunch of stuff.  Too much in fact, that I’ll just post them as little blurbs instead of my usual “Reading: insert artsy fartsy title here” journal entries…

Scalped (Vertigo)

Sure, Jason Aaron’s Indian Reservation Noir is well into it’s fourth year, but I just got a chance to check it out.  Much like with IMMORTAL IRON FIST and PREACHER, I was late to the party.  But you know what?  I’m glad I was.  Because I don’t think I woulda been able to stand the 30-day wait between issues on this fantastic series.  Someone tell me why this isn’t on HBO.

100 Bullets (Vertigo)

Now this series has been done for a while, but I finally got around to picking up the first three trades coz I’ve been on a weird crime comic spree as of late.  I apologize in advance for the pun, but it’s… hit and miss? As much as the revolving cast keeps things interesting, it also works against the narrative because you cant really invest in anyone.  But I’ll gladly stay in my seat for Risso’s art alone.


I Killed Adolf Hitler (Fantagraphics)

There’s something about the deadpan delivery of this comic that makes it a lot more touching than you expect it to be.  Whatever you’re guessing it’s about based on the title, you’re really only half way there.  The majority of the book is delivered in an 8-panel grid, so there’s a visual immediacy to the story itself, because the pacing really isn’t the point.  And when you get to the end, you’ll get that it’s really a love story more than anything else.


Switchblade Honey (AiT/Planet Lar)

The captain is an asshole and the crew is a mishmash of crack addicts and psychopaths.  Meet the people who will save you from super advanced aliens who see you as nothing more than germs with shoes.  Angry Star Trek.  Warren Ellis.  Go.

The Tres Komikeros podcast will be taking a break after episode 52, which is scheduled for recording this July 17th… coincidentally the same day Jonas Diego is running a 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge.  So we figured… one more show for this season?  We’ll all be at our desks for a whole day anyway.  Fuck it, let’s record a 24-hour podcast.  And that, my friends, is how big decisions are made.  With half-assedness and lots of cursing.  Come listen.  And learn yourself a thing or two… even if it’s only “don’t do it.”

Avatarded

avatar_eye_lgWarren Sanchez is a 3-D animator.  A damn good one at that.  Warren Sanchez and I used to work together at an advertising/animation studio.  He knows I like to read a lot of comics and watch a lot of effects-heavy films.

Warren Sanchez knows I like to curse a lot.

Warren Sanchez has never heard me curse out of sheer awe of a movie’s visuals.

And then we saw Avatar.

2009 in Film is a closed book as far as I’m concerned.  Thanks, Jim.  After the Star Wars prequels, Transformers, and G.I. fucking Joe… I badly needed that.

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On the other side of the bowl of awesome sauce, I was at first worried about a project Jad and I were working on that was superficially similar.  HARBINGER WAR is a sci-fi tale pivoting on the premise of cavemen battling an extra-terrestrial threat.  The parallels are all there, but then I thankfully unclenched when I realized Lucas had beat Cameron to the punch with Phantom Menace, and Burroughs spanked them both with the Barsoom books decades before.

So yes, I’m good.  This, as they say, is fuel for a hopeful and mighty fire.  A movie hasn’t thrilled me like that in a long time, and if nothing else… it felt amazing being a wide-eyed kid again.

Medium View

We are not smart people.

The night of the Watchmen premier, one of my friends asks the table if any of us thought all this knowledge of Star Wars, Marvel continuity, Mass Effect side quests, and Chuck Norris jokes actually meant anything.  There were about six of us, with a beer tower in the middle.  It was as close as we got to quarterlifing, and that tends to shake me pantsless.  “No,” I said.  Coz this stuff is important to me, sure, and I love it… but by no stretch of the imagination does it kick our IQ levels up any.  What we are, are a few of many kids hanging ten on a mortal wave.  I remember tossing the term Creative Zeitgeist out… but I don’t remember why.

See? (Read first sentence)

Been having fun lately.  Got to travel with my girl up to one of the country’s highest peaks to help shoot her music video.  Hummer was a bit cramped with crew and tech, but the view and how the music carried up there was well worth it.  Don’t get a lotta chances to do that, y’know?

PLUCK won Zuda’s October competition, so now Gabe is working like an animal for you people, making sure we give you a story well worth following.  I’m on creature design duty for the next week or so, that’ll probably gimme an excuse to update the blog. Also… FUCKYES!!!

Local comic scene has been gaining steam, and monthly Drink n’ Draws (bastardized DnD for you paladin-types) are proving fun and energizing, to say the least.  Never hurts to be around fellow fanboys to help you feel like a real person. Oh snap. Related to this, in the Public Validation Department, I recently got talked to by a local newspaper about working in comics and the scene in general.  Managed not to curse too much, so I’m fairly proud about that.  Interview should run near the end of the month if they don’t misplace the transcript amid post-Manny fight analyses and 2012 reviews.

Need to see that movie.

Looking to wrap up JUDAH and a coupla other projects and commissions by year’s end, as January is already looking busy.  Not quite ready to talk about the new projects yet, but it’s all pretty exciting.  Haven’t gotten to finish that Glutton God piece either, but it can wait.

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Wolfgang Parker is polishing the knobs on a previously discussed project.  Be afraid.

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Finally, shopping Tres Komikeros around to find it an FM radio home.  Each podcast episode runs for roughly an hour, which is way too much geek talk than is healthy (trust us, we know), so we’re looking into making only the half-hour review portion air-friendly, while the rest is online bonus stuff that’s bad for your children.

Bonus.  What a funny word.

Snowball

Takeout.  Bought this bacon-raped cheeseburger thing at close to midnight, coz I usually get real hungry right around that time and it gets harder and harder to stay at the desk when my stomach begins to fuse with my spine.  But now that I have this sexy chunk of food in front of me, I’m not feelin’ it.  Not the least bit hungry.  Feel more like I’ve been pantsed by the Irony Fairy and she’s pointing and laughing at my wiener.  Eat big sandwich anyway.  Large fries.  Large coke.  Double patty.

Now happy as a pig in shit.  Pretty sure I look the part too.

Comics are glamorous.

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Work’s been hectic.  As mentioned in previous posts, OVERTHROW and 1888 are out of my hands (crosses fingers, toes, and all other crossable appendages), so I’m diving into some new things to keep me afloat as I wait for word.  JENNY STRANGE is cruising along, and I’m finally in the final lap of what, I must say, has been a real challenge to my page-orientation ethic.  I’m taking much, much longer than I would have liked though, and I humbly admit to a noobish ineptitude on my part regarding the proper adoption of the landscape comic format.  Never been more aware of the horizontal page flow than I am now.  Curse you, Zuda!

In concurrence with that (thanks, Word of the Day Cereal), I’m juuust starting pencil work on some pages that’ll hopefully make their way into a European mangazine-anthology-type book.  So I’m thinking JUMP, but with a Le in front of it.  I don’t know.  Alexis Nolte has written a sonuvabitch of a detailed period piece — a French 17th century detective comedy, to be exact.  And quite frankly… I don’t know what I’m spending more time on — all the wigs, or all the corset cleavage shots.

Penis Canals.

Good times.

…And still in the page-layout-and-script-munching stages is an also unnameable project with William Prince.  Not much to say about that until I bang some real stuff out, but I will say that fantasy-oriented existentialist themes always suck me in, especially when they don’t just feel like they’ve  been hammered into a comic-shaped chunk of pretense.  Things like this just give my inner Caulfield a hug and a handjob every now and then, and that never hurts.

So yeah… that’s going on.  Plus the cross-country trips.  Plus the podcast shenanigans beginning to snowball.  But in a good way.

Fairly confident I can get all these projects out of the way before the month ends.

Oh stop laughing.

OGN

Everyone tries to write Watchmen the first time around. Cop to it, kids. We all want our first foray into the world of comics to be loud. To be a hit. And I don’t blame you. Who doesn’t want to be the guy who came out of nowhere and just punched everyone in the face with something awesome? It’s not wrong to want that, but it is harmful to hope for it and, by extension, pin your tragically fragile comic creator self-esteem on what may very well be a shitty Original Graphic Novel.

My friend Matt and I are currently bringing a year’s worth of scripts for INSTRUMENTS to a close. The process is done via skype… with beers… so it’s not the smoothest of creative processes. I currently have about 90% of the first issue completely drawn and toned (we’re planning to release it black and white), so all that’s needed for a proper pitch is the clean script for the first year’s worth of monthly issues. You read that right: the first year. And therein lies the rub — What are the odds of a coupla nobodies getting a publisher to commit to an entire year’s worth of monthlies? Granted of course that our story is mind-numbingly awesome (Who else is gonna say it, asshole?), our operation can’t exactly hinge on the script alone when Image, Boom, Avatar, or whoever else can’t tell us apart from a dead dog’s cock now can it? They don’t know who the hell we are.

So I start small.

I’ve got a bunch of solos I’ve been meaning to start fleshing out, script-wise. I can’t pull off ICELANDER with less than eight issues, so that’s out. JOHNNY BEASTLING only needs six for the first arc, but I really really really don’t want to have to use it until I know I can write it well. THREE BLIND MICE needs more research. So that just leaves the pirate story…

Let’s call it ALL HANDS for now. And let’s say it’s what Lovecraft wanted to see when he watched Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harryhausen was right beside him, stealing his popcorn. (I draw comics, were you really looking for a profound metaphor there?)  But the best part is it works as a one-shot.  An oversized one-shot, sure, but much easier to sell than a twelve-issue maxi-series written by two drunken nerds.

So that’s going on. I wish I could say I arrived at this decision to write a pirate story via logical reasoning, but the fact is it’s nothing but what I’m calling a resultant… I don’t know… mental state? Gestalt?… of a series of strange coincidences. Take from that what you will.

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MASK of MANOLO #2 is experiencing logistical hitches. More on that as I get news.

Page layouts for HORROR PROJECT are coming along nicely. Thumbnails are being a bit of a challenge, but live and learn I suppose.

Tomorrow will be about reading JENNY STRANGE scripts for Zuda.

OVERTHROW #1 is done and done. All that’s left is the cover concepts before we take it to pitch. Justin suggested I study some old posters and go all Soviet Propaganda on everyone’s asses, so that should be fun. See?

soviet31 soviet2 soviet11

Typicality

Was chatting with a friend into the next dawn’s embryonic stages the other day.  And awed by my deceptive lucidity at such an hour, she asked me just what my regular schedule was like.  So I replied with as honest an answer as I could give under the circumstances — I laughed.

Since I started doing this comic-drawing-thing professionally (and I use the term professionally as loosely as possible), my body clock has gone to shit.  Especially now, since I’m in the homestretch of Overthrow #1.

But anyway… for no other reason than to shut Rey Siasar up (the fuckface who has been asking me to update the site), here’s what a typical workday is like, schedule-wise, but minus specific time brackets… coz that’s just silly.  This was Wednesday:

  • Wake up at 10 a.m. and stare blankly into ceiling for half an hour, asking the Forces That Control All why I’m not Mike Mignola and Reon Kadena isn’t to my immediate left reading one of my Hellboy trades and loving it.
  • Wander into the living room for coffee, what’s left of breakfast, and some CNN.  Because I’m mature like that.
  • (Toggle MTV)
  • Play with the dog before lunch, since this is the only time of day we’re equally filthy.  Then I go back in the house, hit the bathroom, and get all clean and relatively civilized.  Dog maintains his freedom.
  • Afternoon work sees me checking favorite forums, blogs, and comic news sites, but not before  I check my blog stats and Deviant Art comments so that my frail artist ego can have its daily handjob.  Then I read a coupla comic books to swipe from just to warm my shit up and pop a movie in to watch while I work.  Tweet.

transmetcarlito*** Wednesday had me re-reading a Transmet trade with Carlito’s Way as background noise.  The combo was strangely therapeutic.

  • Emails.
  • Mid-afternoon sees me reviewing scripts, thumbnailing some pages, and pacing around my room figuring shit out, asking myself what I’ve gotten myself into.  Laughing from time to time at the fact that I’ve fooled them all.
  • Walk the dog and do some loose sketching with the nephew.  Hands down my favorite part of the day, especially since that Spanish girl down the road started walking her beagles.
  • She has nice puppies.  BAM!
  • When I get over my hate for the blank page (yes, I still do), drawing the panel borders in helps me breathe a little easier, and actual work starts.  By dinner time I usually have a comic-looking page with some sketchy figures drawn in.
  • After dinner to early dawn hours = real work.

And the cycle begins anew the following day (or later that same day).  None can match the absolute glam of it.

Someone send me some strippers.

Integrity

Toughest part about getting comic jobs when you’re still starting out as a penciller/inker is getting people to pay attention and appreciate your style. More often than not, especially when you’re still learning the ropes (like I am), some of the writers you’ll want to work with will have a specific art style in mind. They may have a unique sci-fi concept, but in their minds they picture it as being drawn by Charest or Hughes. They may have an absolutely new fantasy epic, but are completely mentally locked into having it look like Joe Madureira drew it.

Where does that leave you as a newbie? Do you change your style just to land the gig? Or do you stick to your guns and absolutely refuse to abandon your artistic identity even it means passing up a project you really, really want to do? It’s a pretty thin line, but it’s incredibly tough to cross either way. And that’s all without even bringing up the dough yet.

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Eno Card says, “Simply a matter of work.”

Huh.

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Fuck it. Ain’t budging.

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As good as done with the first issue of MASK of MANOLO. As far as I know, issue two ain’t supposed to begin production till mid-November or so, so that allows me time to shift gears for a bit and work on other stuff that have had to be placed on hold. Pin-up commissions, other books, and the like.

Make it swift, man. Make it swift.  Right across the jugular.

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Another tough thing I’ve noticed about actually doing the work already is this: It may take you only one day to do one clean page of comic book art, but what happens when you have to do it for days in a row, sometimes for seven days out of a week, week after week, until you do all twenty-two or more pages?

Short answer: If you don’t take it a day at a time, it will will destroy you.

Granted, of course, that I’m not exactly the most disciplined guy around, but there is something to be said for being too lazy to even sleep. I shit you not. But yeah you know what I mean.

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A toy convention is being put together by some local enthusiasts, and Santini and I were approached to spearhead the artsy-farsty side of things. Two “featured artists” if I may be so bold. Unfortunately I’m not gonna be in town for said shenanigan, but we’ll see how it evolves into something more awesome, considering I won’t be around to fuck it up. I still have a hand in it though, so HAH! Suck it!

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.