Sleep?

Okay so things are looking busy — between Orlando losing to LA and Hillary fracturing her elbow, I actually have a lotta stuff going on that I’m actually involved in. Whoodathunkit?  So I’m gonna keep this short so I can get back to work and my characteristic self-loathing.  But mostly work.  Schwing!

Quasi-religious Existentialist project with the ever-dashing William Prince just needs a couple more pages to wrap up my part in the pitch process.  Here are some concept sketches from that story.

amor-bookkeepers-wj1

Steam punk Battle Chasers-esque Zuda proposal with the well-oiled machine Gabe White is about half way done.  Shouldn’t be long now.  Here’s a peek.

pluck-wj
Crime-horror saga 1888 with Wolfgang “People Pleaser” Parker is practically ready to pitch.  Just a coupla character sketches needed from the only slow guy on the team.  Oh wait… that’s me.

Justin “I know where you live” Jordan is juggling the pitches for OVERTHROW and JENNY STRANGE.  All appendages are crossed.  Do not activate webcam.

The yet unnamable period piece with lord and master Alexis Nolte went to pitch last week with some friends across the pond.  Initial reaction has been positive.

Just getting into the groove of what’s shaping up to be my first solo series after MASK of MANOLO.  I’ve somehow attracted the attention of the lovely Rod Hannah, with ties to cerealgeek.com, to illustrate a three-issue mini about wee super-heroine SOVENA RED.  Designs have been approved.  Scripts have been read.  Layouts have been… laid out.  More on that as the weeks go by.  Here’s a peek though.

sovena-wj
On the homefront, the online game Alex “You should really be drawing” Cipriano and I were hired to do is plodding along politely.  The worst is probably over, with all the human characters done and approved… now it’s just a buncha cool monsters and we’re home free.  After a fashion.

Speaking of monsters, my HORROR CLASSICS are on hold.  Personal projects… bah!  That werewolf sketch I showed off a month ago is here in Fort Bastard somewhere under a pile of Invincible back issues… I hope.

Just got back home from a… well… a “creative summit” with Jad “Why am I still with you?” Montenegro, at her end of the island chain.  HARBINGER WAR is currently in the conceptualization stage, and we’re giggly as fuck about it.  A lot.  Here’s a sketch from the trip.

hw-wj
There’s that Comic Book Creation Seminar I got invited to speak at, for all the good that’ll do them. HEHAH! That’s set for next month still, but plans are solidifying.  Like a flan.  But creamier.  Maybe I can give out tax advice.

Should look into cloning myself.

More updates as they happen.

The Zuda Challenge (Part II)

If you’re just blowing in, this is the second in a series of posts documenting the tribulations I went through in adapting to a widescreen-format comic.  Co-conspirator Justin Jordan discusses the writing aspect of the challenge here.

So I’ve been dissecting some of the most recent and highly effective double-page spreads I’ve seen to try and decipher what logic the artists might’ve been operating on.  Reverse-engineering, if you will.  I figure if I stare at these babies long enough I may be able to extract remnants of whatever special cut of LSD the penciller was on when thumbnailing, and use then-acquired zen state on projects such as JENNY STRANGE.

Because hey… like Thomas Edison probably always said, “When in doubt, steal from the best.”

immonen-usmIn Ultimate Spider-Man #124, Immonen uses the top half of the page to establish the environment and mood of the scene, taking full advantage of the panoramic view.  The tall narrow panels of the lower half splits the events into tense, almost choking, moments.

burrows-crossedSimilarly, in Crossed #1 Jacen Burrows splits the spread into a top and bottom half.  The top however is employed as an illustrative piece to essentially convey a definitive shot of the story’s backdrop, whereas the smaller panels below shows us the actual characters and pushes the story forward.

yu-siIn Secret Invasion #1, Leinil Yu went with a three-tier spread to initially wow you with a shot just packed with characters.  The second tier features mostly talking heads, whereas the final tier is pretty much gravy to just tense you up for whatever comes first on the next page.

So without getting too technical and shit, what strikes me the most as the widescreen format’s strength is the panoramic advantage as the splashes just look more cinematic, allowing the reader’s eye to wander more and discover things.  Never doubt the power of Where’s Waldo.

Something to think about.

This series of posts concludes with me showing my JENNY STRANGE pages, which I did as I studied the above artists.  So it’ll be a healthy exercise in accepting my apparent density.  No doubt my girl would have a thing or two to add about that.  Fun for the whole family, I guess.

The Zuda Challenge (Part I)

The JENNY STRANGE package is graduating to the clean-ups phase.  Digitally unsmudging my pigeon poo inks and random coffee stains now.  And I mean that literally.  Sure, I love comics, and I love art, and I love the creation of comic art… but I honestly doubt I will ever enjoy clean-ups.  Coupla buddies once offered to shoot a video of my pencil-to-ink process (like them Gnomon cats, but with zero production value), and I knew these fuckers, y’know? And I knew they liked watching highway police chases and car crashes and train wrecks unfold on TV, y’know? So…ha ha ha!  Rain check, you bastards.

So JENNY’s for Zuda, and that’s DC’s webcomic… ongoing contest… thing.  I honestly still have no idea what to call it without having to say it’s a slush pile, but Zalben went with that on an episode of the now-defunct The Stack on Pulp Secret.  The Zuda browser fills most of your screen with a landscape-orientated comic page.  This was a challenge to me because up until now I’ve only been working on standard comic page/portrait orientation.  Switching gears to landscape had me rethinking my panel design, sweet spot positioning, and pretty much the entire flow of the page itself.

zuda-img
The standard comic layout, given how I’ve gotten used to reading, allows for a simple Z-shaped flow to the reader’s eye; and this way, no one really has to worry about the last panel (bottom-right of a typical page) attracting too much attention as you read toward it, simply because it’s in the very bottom of the page and thus it is literally the last panel your eye travels to.  Put simply, it is read last because it is seen last.

Now because comic pages are typically broken down in such a way that the last panel is usually either the “period” in that page’s sequential sentence, or the ellipses leading off to the next sequence of events (the next page), the intuitive positioning of the last panel is tantamount to the effective flow of a sequential page.  And of course, better flow equals better comic… and that never hurts.

Which brings me to the tough part about the Zuda pages with their landscape orientation — Suppose your script calls for you to lay out the page into two rows of panels: a top row and a bottom row.  Now let’s say there are three panels up top and two in the bottom, with the second bottom panel being the big plot event happening on the page.  It’s problematic because said big-event panel is right underneath the build-up shots.  Yes, I’m aware I could be bitching about a moot point, seeing as how most Zuda readers are probably “professional” comic readers and I’m just a jackass, but doesn’t it annoy you when you flip a page and your eye is accidentally drawn to the big twist/event right away, and so you feel you just got cheated out of what would have been a great build up?

And of course I’m aware that the Z flow still applies to the landscape orientation since it’s still western media, but I found the intricacies and challenges of the tilt to be fun and interesting to talk about, especially since, unlike the ever-dashing Derrick Fish, I have little to no experience with the strip format.

I’ll share some JENNY STRANGE pages in a coupla days as well as take a look at how some professionals play with the landscape orientation, and maybe then get told off on how I’m just talking out of my ass. Till then… keep ‘em warm, ladies.

Like Water

One of the larger rooms in the Amor residence recently became available to me and my deceptively quiet lifestyle — I say this with a smile in my heart and a curse on my tongue because I am in fact an intense young man with big, big ideas and thus need to be so housed (Hehah! I’m back, fuckers!).

It’s taken a good week to achieve what I waaaaant to call a Semblance of Order? But let’s just say it’ll do for now.  No, I am not building a fort around the desk… it’s just that the art books and some comics’ll have to be happy being piled up on the carpet until I can get a new shelf made. Or stolen.  I know a guy who knows a guy.  Maybe.

Work station’s set up smartly underneath air conditioner, sound blasters making the most of being cornered.  Made sure she was settled in first so Ray Charles could keep me company as I migrated my shit. Somehow, “Georgia on My Mind” almost made it feel fun. Almost. Room’s got more windows, which is never a bad thing, seeing as how I’m spending more and more time indoors what with the projects piling up (Douche Alert!). Also not hurting me — the fact that the room is twice the size of the old one.  Studio Hunger Pain was good to me… but this… I can get used to this.  I also got stuck with a retardedly large bed.  It’s pretty much a kingy — which is funny coz I am a tiny, tiny, unmarried boy — so there really isn’t a need for such generous beddage, unless the girlfriend finds a way to ninjarotically scale the balcony, which (and I shit you not) opens up to a pretty shallow view of the street.

Idea.

So anyway yeah, as of this posting Fort Bastard is running at 90% capacity.  The other 10% totally depends on whether or not the people who supposedly provide me with an internet service decide to help me out rather than just (a) reassure me with false hope; (b) continue giving me the runaround; or (c) hit on me.  Apparently being a manchild with a semi-nasal baritone is shmexy.  Who knew?

The transfer’s been generally good though.  And I’m finally able to get caught up.  The Euro comic thing is pretty much wrapped up, with some minor cleanups to take care of — cleavage enhancements and such. What.  The Will Prince gig is steadily gaining some steam, with the page layouts all done and pretty much approved.  But tomorrow I’m waking up, fixing up some coffee, and finishing JENNY STRANGE, god fucking damn it. Once and for all, period, end of discussion. Completely unhappy with the lag between the action sequence and the pitch’s denouement. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.  And finally, Alex and I have landed this local gig where we design RPG-type creatures and all that fun stuff.  I was a Magic: The Gathering nerd, so stuff like this is always good to unwind on.  Doesn’t hurt that it pays, of course.  Holla!

So yes… still busy.  With the new studio, what I’ve found to be the biggest challenge is getting back into the right headspace of being relentlessly productive again.  And yes, I know it’s really just a geographical change; but more often than not, are we not shaped by the spaces around us, after all?  Finding that groove again though.  It’s funny how, in freelance, you’re constantly thankful that you’re tired.  But you keep moving, y’know?  You pickaxe, claw, or tooth your way up that steep slope… but you keep moving.  Don’t know if it was Bruce Lee or Spike Speagle, but hey… “Never stop moving.  Remain in motion.  Constant.  Flowing.  Think like fire.  Be like water.”

Someone lent me Iron Fist trades.

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.

::: ::: ::: ::: :::

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.

::: ::: ::: Keeping it Relevant Department ::: ::: :::

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