Friday, August 19, 2016

Vacation Plans

Going on a vacation starting this Sunday, but I want to be able to keep working on at least one of my comics. We'll be flying and driving and staying in hotels and whatnot so I need transportation friendly supplies. 

The majority of American Brainstorm is on a six-panel grid, or at least a three-tier structure. My originals are 10x15, so that breaks down pretty easily into 6 even panels. 

What I've done is taken this mistakenly ordered 11x14 paper, cut it in half and ruled out one tier on each half page. 

Once I have these all ruled out, I can leave my larger ruler and triangle behind, and just take my smaller tools. I have legal clipboard I can use as a sturdy surface to work on. 

So, even though I'll be on vacation, I hope to get at least one tier a day done. 

I'll post them here as I try to keep up. 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

American Brainstorm Page 7 Pencils

Doubling down on the talking head narrator caption. Not a lot of backgrounds on this one. Still! This is the third page I've posted today. 
Actually, the one panel with backgrounds, panel one, might be my favorite thing I've drawn today. It might be hard to see it on screen, but I'm happy with the gags and the drawing. 

Panel two came out nicely and quickly. 

Panel 3 is a joke I completely forgot about: the Baby Killers. This was fun, even if the babies are weird giant babies. 

All in a day's work. 

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A Different Page 6 Work in Progress

The thumbs for this other comic — a comic I've done about three full drafts of — are on 14x17 paper, more or less full size, and drawn with a 6B pencil. Since I keep reworking the damn thing trying to get it right, I thought breaking with my normal process would help. I think it was the right call. 
My plan for this draft is to do one pass on the pencils for all 24(?) pages and then do another pass before inking. Either this is the final draft or I put the whole thing on the back burner and work on a different project. 
I'm pretty happy with this page and I think it's the closest to being a final penciled page I've done so far. 

More days where I start and finish two pages of pencils before dinner, please!

Due to some very unplanned events on Sunday, I was unable to go to the Baroness/Pallbearer show that night. Pretty bummed about that, but there was stuff needed doing. I like the new Pallbearer EP, Flesh & Fury. They've gone crossover without sounding like crap. 



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American Brainstorm Page 6 Thumbnails and Pencils

When Patrick Barb and I were 'writing' American Brainstorm, we basically just sat at my kitchen table drinking beers while he jotted thoughts in his notebook and I thumbnailed pages, trying to keep up with the freewheeling ideas we were shooting back and forth. 

I do my thumbs pretty big, on legal paper and, in this case, with big fat sharpies. 

My favorite bit at this stage was the floating head in the narration caption box in the first panel. The great Kim Deitch is one of the few people I can think of who still employs this tool, which I guess looks quaint and unserious and old fashioned to a lot of people. All the more reason to bring it back!

While pencilling the page, I cracked myself up a bit, including dreadful cameos by Carl Weathers and Sonny Landham and a gag in panel 5 with a jack-booted SJW thug* bayoneting Weathers and simultaneously shooting Landham in the neck. 

I wasn't listening to anything while drawing this, but I woke up with Moses Sumney's Everlasting Sigh in my head. It's a wonderful song and one of my favorites of 2016. 


It's 10:22 AM and I started and finished a page of pencils. If I'm going to get things done, I need to create more mornings like this one. 

*At the risk of stepping on and ruining the joke, American Brainstorm is supposed to be an adaptation of a cheap 80s action movie that takes place in a dystopian future US as imagined by NRA/MRA/Right-wing Christian/Libertarian/Tea party/Drumpf nut jobs. 


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Monday, August 15, 2016

First Pass on Another Page of Pencils

First pass on another page of pencils. When I'm writing, I fall into a bit of a trap of endless pages of dialogue. It all seems great until you have to draw it. Special attention done to the hands, but I think there's a whole lot of reworking to do on the next round of pencils. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

American Brainstorm Page 5 Pencils

Listened to more Orchid Thief, but I found it hard to follow the narrative and focus on my drawing at the same time, so half this page was done to the full drone of an air conditioner and a fan. What I wouldn't give for a string of dry, 70° days. 


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Another Page at the Penciling Stage

This is page 4 of another comic I am working on. In the spirit of deliberate practice, I'm looking at what I've done to see what specific things I can work on. I have trouble with facial consistency, bottles and hands. Faces and hands (along with body gestures) are the most important elements of narrative art. They are how we communicate in person, and they are the most important tools we have. I've drawn some great hands and I've drawn some great faces, but I think applying the principles of deliberate practice, I can draw them communicatively and consistently. So, I need to take the time to just focus on those elements. Like an athlete doing push-ups, I need to dedicate time to the basics. 

Bottles. Actors like having props because it gives them something to do with their hands. Actors are trying to tell you a story, so what they do with their hands can be as important as the dialogue they are saying. If I'm going to work on hands, I need those hands to be able to work a prop. And there's no better prop than a bottle. Beer bottle, wine bottle, soda bottle, liquor bottle, olive oil bottle — culturally, food and drink are some of the things we gather around to tell stories. We've probably been doing that since primitive homosapiens gathered around the watering hole. If characters are telling you a story (and they always are), then it makes sense for them to do it with food and drink. For better or worse, the bottle is my preference. David Lynch, who I suspect isn't much of a drinker, often has his characters eating or drinking coffee. It was reading Lynch on Lynch several years ago that made me notice this and want to incorporate it into my own work. 

Some of this page was drawn while listening to Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief. 


I'll take another pass at the pencils before inking this, but I'm happy with the things that are good and focused on my improving the things that need work. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some more American Brainstorm Work in Progress

Listening to an audiobook, Geoff Colvin's Talent is Overrated and thinking about applying the idea of deliberate practice to what I'm doing. 

In the meantime, here's some pages I've been working on!



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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

American Brainstorm Work in Progress

My friend Patrick Barb and I came up with a rather silly idea for a comic a couple years ago called American Brainstorm. We had a lot of fun bouncing around and escalating each other's nutty thoughts and I laid out and he scripted the whole thing. 

I was supposed to be working on it on the side of other comics I was working on, but those comics kept getting sidelined by life and this got further and further sidelined. 

I drew the first splash page ages ago, but it's gone now. I'm taking a little time to work on it now, taping together two sheets of this too-small paper I ordered while I wait for the fool-size papers to arrive. 

This will also give me a chance to practice on this vellum surface. 

I'm years behind everyone else in this, I'm sure, but I just played the demo of Limbo. It's the first video game I've played since...Super Mario Wii(?) at Marcos and Jill's going away party. It's great. Fairly intuitive, clever, makes you feel clever for solving problems, moody, creepy, gorgeous, scary, only a little frustrating. I'm going to buy it, making it the first video game I ever buy. But I'm going to wait a bit. I don't really NEED more things to occupy my time, even if one of those things is special, like I think Limbo is. 

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trying out the Strathmore Series 500 Vellum Surface



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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Page 3 Work in Progress

I think I'll want to take another pass at this page once I get through to the end, but here are the pencils for page three for now. I am super happy with the classical composition in the bottom half of the page. 



While working on this, was listening to Jamila Woods' super sweet HEAVN, Aphex Twin's great new Cheetah EP that bears a little resemblance to Todd Terje's music, actually. We went to see Terje and Lindstrom last night and sweat more than I have in a week of running. Also listened to a couple episodes of Tradh Twins, which I've only just finally now started even though it hits all my favorite things. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Page 2 Work in Progress

The last draft I did of this page was one of my favorites, but I still felt like I needed to kick it up a notch or three to get it in line with my new page 1. I'm terrified of losing some of the really great things from that last draft, but I think these pencils are going to result in a pretty kickass final page. 

While I listened to a lot of music while working on this, I think Moderat's III and Anderson .Paak's Malibu were real highlights. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Old-School Blogging

I do miss old-fashioned blogging, and if I'm ever going to write the essays I have in my head, they'll probably be here. I love Tumblr and Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and whatever, and I'll keep using them, but I miss the one-stop-shop. 

Here's a page of a comic I've been working on. I've written this comic front to back in thumbnails 5-6 times and as finished pages almost twice, and it's been a real struggle finding my groove. These are the finished pencils for this latest round. Hopefully it's the last time I pencil this page. Right now, it feels like it's light years ahead of the earlier drafts. 



I'm listening to Astronoid's Air. It's super pretty emo shoegaze unblackened black metal in the vein of Alcest, Jesu and Rainer Maria. I like it a lot. 

I've been browbeaten into watching Rick and Morty. It's not bad. I could do without the rape/sexual violation jokes, but some of it is quite good. "I'm Mr. Meeseeks, look at me!"

Sami Zayn is the wrestler of the year so far. His match against Nakamura and his feud/matches with Kevin Owens have been stellar. If we can't ever have Daniel Bryan wrestle again, I'll take Sami each and every day. 

I just read the second issue of Soule and Pulido's She-Hulk. What a pleasure that book was. I'm also rereading Milligan and Bachalo's Shade, the Changing Man. The first issue holds up really well. 

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