Ghost Ink

Time was I’d go through the trouble of redrawing a whole panel with a mistake in it, or at least do a patch or a frisket for a small revision.  I’ve covered up many asymmetrical faces and oversized hands this way, and boy did it take time.  Having to rescan single elements in, then meticulously pasting it via Photoshop like some digital crane operator was never something I looked forward to.

Digital drawing didn’t right away occur to me as the obvious solution.  I’ve been coloring with a mouse for as long as I can remember, and when my peers demanded I get a drawing tablet, it only ever hit me as a coloring tool.  Silly me.

It’s no giant leap, I know.  But now all my page and panel revisions are done digitally.  I erase stuff out and draw things in, all with the Wacom.  Only the correction phase has changed though, all the original art is still done traditionally.  And that retention  makes me happy for some strange reason.

About a week ago I completely adopted the habit of doing absolutely all my spot blacks in the computer.  It’s faster and much less messy, but I’m also left, for all intents and purposes, with an unfinished original page.  There is a balance to be struck here, and I haven’t found it yet.

The irony of being torn between a laborious and messy physical process versus a speedy and accurate ethereal one doesn’t escape me, but hey… comics versus art?


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.

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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.

Week One

So I’m alive… after my first week of working on my first actual books. It’s funny doing this instead of an actual day job coz you realize how terrible a manager you’d end up being. Essentially been picking up the pencils right after lunch and working non-stop till about three in the morning the following day. Then sleep till about lunchtime, and the cycle begins anew. The schedule is actually not as bad as it sounds, but sometimes I just roll back over and go back to sleep, wishing I was Travis Charest. That being said though, I finished five pages and a cover this past week. So yeah. Not terrible.

It’s interesting having two books to work on that are so different from each other. And I don’t even mean story-wise either. See, MASK of MANOLO is fully intended to be a black and white book, whereas OVERTHROW! is going to be colored. And as I’m working on these pages throughout the week and alternating which books to work on and when… I realize that it’s a different set of artistic muscles that gets exercised every time.

When I know that a book is going to be black and white, I’m very generous with my hatching. There are lines literally all over the place. Even if I know that I’m going to apply tones to every single page later on, I still apply my hatch lines. That might very well be a waste of time, but it just helps me put it in a different place, y’know, mentally as well as visually.

OVERTHROW! is going to be colored, and I’m helping Justin scout for a colorist. I think I’ve already spotted one, but I’ll let you guys know when it’s solid. I’m not very hatchy when working on this book. My blacks are quite a bit more solid and defined, and I leave a lot of space for a colorist to interpret slight tonal shifts. For instance, while I would apply hatching to a slightly darker (read: midtoned) side of a rock in a black and white book… I would leave it untouched in a colored book and leave it to the colorist to give it a shaded hue. Color me noobish, but I feel like overdoing hatch lines muddles the colors quite a bit.  But when used right and just suggestive enough, it can be a powerful unifier for when a colorist does his magic.

I don’t know if I’m doing it right yet though, but the colorist candidate guy says I’m on the right track, which is encouraging. Go me.

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Eno’s Oblique Strategy Card says: Cluster Analysis

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For those of you who missed it, a coupla friends and myself have decided to kill what little free time we have left to do a comics review show. It’s in the journal entry right before this ‘un. Tres Komikeros is/was/will be a podcast hosted both here and on The Independent Comic Site. ICS has pretty much identified itself as Newsarama’s evil twin, which I think is a really fresh take on comics journalism. Matt Brady meets Maddox.  I have great respect for Dominik, the EIC, and I just know that site’s just waiting to explode. I can feel it in my amateur podcaster loins.

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I’m not allowed to show anyone any MANOLO stuff till November, but Justin’s been posting some previews of OVERTHROW! at his work blog. Go check ’em out. Laterz!