Behind the Pluckery (Part III)

Continuing what I had started back in October, I’m going to lift the curtain on the thumbnail-to-inked-page process on PLUCK, my weekly webcomic for Zuda.  The whole season is going to be some 60 pages long, so if nothing else I’ll have a collection of fun little posts to look back on and be ashamed of learn from.Picking right up after page eight’s quaint little cliffhanger, our POV switches over to Pluck’s on page nine (above), and we see the king for the first time.  I originally wanted to show some sort of banquet right behind the king’s throne, but as I thought about it later on it made less and less sense for the king to let his subjects see he was all human like that.With Pluck getting a little too cocky on page ten, I wanted the king to put him in his place and to have a somewhat sinister air to him, hence the heavy shadow obscuring him in panel 3.  I changed character sizes in panel 4 and 5 mainly to make room for word balloons, but the layouts from the original thumbs are pretty intact.Panel 3, I felt, needed to be punched up a bit to give a bit more immediacy to the king’s words, so I scrapped the original shot and zoomed in on the king doing his best Uncle Sam.  I then made the amulet panel out to be the only predominantly black one in the page, to give it a bit more weight.  To mirror it in panel 7, I made Pluck’s frock blacker than usual, letting the amulet stand out a bit more in the overall layout of page eleven.

Once I started page nine, it had already been agreed that Gabe’s brother Matt would be coming onboard to provide lush colors for the comic.  So there’s a steady and very slow transition of me doing less and less blacks so that the line art can let a bit more color in.  Gabe is pretty hands on with the layout process and usually does his own set of layouts that I later build on, but we’ve gotten to a point in our creative relationship that we can pretty much riff on each other’s ideas very freely.  We’ll probably be moving in together soon as well.

Be good.  Go here.  Read PLUCK.


I’m writing this for me.

Drawing at three in the morning, it gets to a funny point where I just put the headset on even when I don’t plan on listening to anything — the extra weight and pressure on my head is comforting.  Helps me focus.  Like a soft vice.  Or a tactile laser.

By the bed is a stack of trades I haven’t burned through yet.  Giffen-Maguire Justice League is about done, but catching up on GL will have to wait… and that Frank Frazetta Testament book looks fatter every time I ignore it.  Reading Comics? Serious Business.

Alex made me read Grant Morrison’s New X-men five years ago, and that’s what brought me back into comics.  This is all his fault.


Two days ago, had a sitdown with Politician XOXO’s people about putting together campaign strip.  On the fence about the whole thing, and still feel a little dirty.  Fairly certain candidate isn’t all that bad (as far as candidates go), but that substrata of professional cartooning just registers as… soupy.  And not in a good way.  Comics should be fun.

Dad bought me my first trade when I was eleven.  Finished The Dark Phoenix Saga in one afternoon.

I can’t stop watching videos of mice getting eaten by piranhas and snapping turtles on Youtube.

Roby let me read his Teen Titans comics when I was too young to care about the words, and George Perez Starfire had a weird habit of making me feel funny in the middle.  Stupid alien.


PLUCK went live on Zuda twelve hours ago.  I am irrevocably valid.  It’s funny working with a weekly deadline.  You’re forced to parse your style down to its essential components and bare necessities.  You draw three lines where two years ago you would have put six, and an alternating crosshatch.  You develop go-tos — fixed solutions for compositional problems.  A mental laundry list of Wally Wood shots.  Grids.  You read Blacksad and anything Quitely to keep from becoming repetitive and boring.  You devour Stuart Immonen.  Because you still have those four other pitches you’re working on, and you sure as hell don’t want those falling flat.  It’s a constant and hectic chase of self-criticism and improvement.  This is the lab, and the scientist is the rat.

Glad I’m seeing my girl this weekend.

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.


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


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.

Behind the Pluckery (Part II)

Zuda’s October competition ends in a coupla days.  Things have been crazy exciting so far, so I figured I’d do a bit more blabbing about what qualified as work behind our entry… just to take my mind off things for a bit.

pluck thumbnail 5Pluck page 5I was honestly thinking about showing a bit more of action in this page, like an actual sequence of moves, but space constraints would have forced me to make them too small and possibly a bit muddled.  Instead, I settled for showing key snippets of how violent the battle was, because that’s all we needed to know anyway.

pluck thumbnail 6Pluck page 6This page required a different approach than the first five because it’s the first daytime sequence in the comic thus far.  Not being too comfortable with it all being too bright, I made sure to play with line weights to at least hint at a sense of depth.  There’s an occasional big black shape to add character to each panel, but having to limit my use of them took a bit of doing.

pluck thumbnail 7Pluck page 7I walk away from this page fairly pleased with myself and my use of the hand as a gestural tool.  To be totally honest, as I was just learning to draw, I was one of those guys who would use any and every excuse to obscure a character’s hand because I dreaded having to draw them in.  Not saying that I draw hands perfectly now, but I’ve surrendered to them often being a indispensable tool for expression sans dialogue.

pluck thumbnail 8Pluck page 8Let’s just ignore my failed attempt at a Bryan Hitch-style camera lens flare and move on to panels 4 and 5, shall we?  The thumbnail will tell you that i planned for the characters to appear a lot bigger in the middle panel, but it killed too much of the castle’s… regalness (yes, that’s a word now)… if you can call it that.  Not too happy about how those small figures ended up looking, but I guess it carries the action across.

The last panel was actually a bit of an issue because Gabe and I needed it to act as a strong enough hook to make people want to read more… but without over-dramatizing the scene.  The script actually had the king saying something to Pluck, and we also thought of Pluck sheepishly introducing himself.  Ultimately, we decided that a relatively subtle one-point perspective shot would emphasize that all eyes were on Pluck, and his looking up would show that not only is he being looked at… but actually looked down upon.  Fidgety hands and a sheepish grin helped bring the panel home.

Anyway yeah, that’s what went into the PLUCK Zuda entry and my layout process in general.  Was it good for you too? *huff

You can read the first part of this commentary here.

If you haven’t yet read the comic, I’d really appreciate it if you checked us out and dropped us a vote.  Enjoy the comic here.

Rocket Llama HQ

Llama: Well then, have you guys met face to face?

John: Haha…no, we have not.  The magic and wonder of the interwebz.  Pluck was like starting a family without the joy of childbirth.

Gabe and I were recently interviewed about PLUCK over at pop culture Ezine Rocket Llama HQ.  I somehow got around to actually talking about the comic…

Check out the full interview here.

Behind the Pluckery (Part I)

As most of you guys have probably already gotten sick of used to by now, I like to post sketches and such just to share a bit of the process behind certain projects.  Here are the rough thumbnails for PLUCK, along with the finished fully inked renderings.

pluck thumbnail 1Pluck page 1Though the roughs for page one were pretty much what I wanted to go with fairly early on, this still took a bit longer than I wanted because I was actually designing the characters right on the page.  I had done a handful of prelim sketches to get some looks down, but I wasn’t really happy with any of them.  I’m a big fan of HBO’s Entourage though, and it may not be apparent to anyone other than myself, but I imagine Pluck’s mannerisms and speech to resemble that of a young Kevin Connoly.

The black outlines for clouds in panels 2 and 3 were afterthoughts, but I hope they helped to add a bit of weight as well as frame those beats in the story.pluck thumbnail 2Pluck page 2I imagined Dreda to have black hair initially, but I found it fit the character better to have her be a dirty blonde.  The negative silhouette of the knight on the horse was a late addition to this page, as I felt the thumbnail needed a bit of clarity.

pluck thumbnail 3Pluck page 3This was easily one of my favorite pages to do, since it’s the first time it becomes apparent that we’re dealing with a fantasy story.  And I gotta say… nothing pisses me off more than pretty boy knights, so I was just snickering as I was putting this together.

pluck thumbnail 4Pluck page 4The last panel of this page came out a little less dynamic than I would have liked, but I think it’s somewhat clear anyway.

A coupla big influences on how the art for PLUCK came together was Mignola’s Baltimore and Tony Moore’s run on Walking Dead.  I don’t have any grays in it at all, but I thought this a threshold version of a grayscale image.  Granted that most black and white stories are either horror or crime, a comedic fantasy needed a bit more hatching for some midtones, so I looked at some  old copies Xenozoic Tales I still have.  It’d be great to come back to this and slap down some gray tones myself though, so I guess we’ll see…

I hope you guys found this interesting.  I’ll post the second half of the commentary in a coupla days.

You can read the actual comic here.  We’d really appreciate your votes!


Gabe White and I collaborated a few months back on a little sword and sorcery tale entitled PLUCK, and now we’ve found our way into Zuda’s October competition.  I’ve always enjoyed the fantasy genre, but this project was a joy to work on because of how offbeat it is.  I approached it as Lord of the Rings meets Huck Finn.

Come check it out >>>

If you guys wanna read more of our webcomic, we need y’all to vote.  Here’s how:

1. Register an account at Zuda.  It’s quick and free, and a confirmation email takes you right back to the site.

2. Go to PLUCK, and click on the VOTE button.  It’ll change from Red to Tan.

3. Finally, add the comic to your favorites — this helps with the final tally as well.

4. Tell your friends!

Much appreciated, guys!

pluck zuda


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.


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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

Don’t Call it a Collab

As I’m working on a handful of projects I’ve started a little something-something with my lady Jad Montenegro.  We’ll be taking turns talking about our progress:

asaSo John came to me with a proposal to do a comic together, aside from the  sheer audacity of a previously conceptualized “relationship strip” *John slaps hand to forehead*, he wanted to do another project entirely, one that wasn’t borne of a need to shamelessly indulge our egos, and when I heard his idea to wrap the storyline around one simple, beautiful concept, there was nothing I could do but to agree.

I mean, come on:

Cavemen versus Aliens.


Tell me how any self-respecting sci-fi lover could resist taking that and not going to TOWN with it, you know?

Drawing inspiration from the likes of sci-fi romance and tall-tale spinning Arthur C. Clarke to the classic iconoclasm (iconoclasstic?) of Isaac Asimov, to Frank Herbert’s Duneverse sagas and Bradbury’s moody, chronicling cynicism (to name just a few of the authors I grew up reading), I guess I’m pretty set for helping create this rippin’ yarn of a graphic novel. If anything, I’ve certainly got the enthusiasm covered.

I’ve never done this before, but that’s where John comes in: he’s good at showing me the ropes.


I zoned out for a bit.

Anyway, that’s what me and the boy have got in the kitchen, and hopefully we’ll have something in the coming weeks for you folks to sink your teeth into.

— Jad