Tuesday, June 30, 2009

VAMPIRE ASTRONAUTS REALIZE WE'RE ANOTHER ROUND AWAY

I got about halfway through the color last night and I think I'm going to start over. It's not what I want.

As it stands:

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Monday, June 29, 2009

VAMPIRE ASTRONAUTS IN WAITING

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

AND MORE VAMPIRES AND ASTRONAUTS

I meant to scan this before I started inking. Then I started inking. Then I scanned it. Now I'll go back to inking.

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CLOSER TO VAMPIRE ASTRONAUTS



I'm happier with this page than ever. Some stuff is still unrefined and there are things that will get clearer, but I'm pretty happy nonetheless.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

MORE ASTRONAUTS, FEWER VAMPIRES, ALSO DUCKS

New round! About halfway through the pencils, but I'm packing for a weekend away from the computer.



Yesterday's post with previous rounds of this drawing was here!
New Store updates are here!
Scorpions are there!
How comics are advertised in France!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ASTRONAUTS NO VAMPIRES

I thought I'd take a few minutes to talk about what I'm doing, under the misapprehension that it is always useful to look at what I'm doing.

Yes, I see what I am talking about. Go back to Europe, college!

Ok. A long time ago, I came up with an idea for a comics story. A 'graphic novel'. A 'webcomic'. A 'mini'. Bla bla bla. I did a lot of work in a variety of sketchbooks and on scraps of paper and in my head ("What are you doing?" "Working" "You're just standing there." "I'm working very hard!").

Once I thought I had the major bits in place, I figured I was ready to begin this new comics adventure. And I did. But, after I started working on the color elements, and began the subsequent pages, I realized that I hadn't done nearly enough preliminary work. I was still working out the overall look of the work. I was still working out some of the logic. I was even applying logic to the clothing. Madness. Um, all here.

Anyway, amidst all of this work (most of which hasn't been scanned and posted), I also started working out some of the details of the story. I wanted to avoid the Kaiju Jugoruma trap that turns a single line of dialogue into a 40 pages of comics (I need to go back into that and build a little more structure in to next chapters).

One of the things that inspired a tighter vision of the plot was George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books that some friends talked me into trying. Say what you will about some of the prose, Martin has such a solid framework beneath this and some serious world-building chops that make the whole thing actually seem free-wheeling and actually opens up the chances to improvise.

Where was I? Have I done it again? I have?

I went to work actually writing this shit out. Full-size thumbs on the backs of drug regulatory manuscripts and outdated airline legal disclaimers. I wrote and I wrote. Pages and pages of comics.

Then I hit a Kaiju Jugoruma moment. A classic, actually. It was precisely the sort of thing that happened in both Earth Minds Are Weak #8 & 9. I let a few characters talk, and I let them get comfortable which each other, and they developed a bit of a banter, and then one character alluded to something, and another character explained a bit more.

And suddenly I had a line of dialogue about something that had happened a month ago (story time).

Motherfucker. You see, the line was a little bit necessary. Forget the developing characterisations. Ignore the art of naturalistic dialogue (why not? I do). There was a bit of of necessary exposition hiding in there (well, it wasn't hiding, per se). There had to be something that happened a month ago (well, I think it's going to be three months ago now — the damn thing takes place thousands of years in the future, I can take a couple months). It was the reason the character was there. Basically, I had to make a decision right there.

Whatever. I could get to that event eventually. More dialogue. A flashback. Something.

But this was a scene that was eating at me. I actually — no matter where in the narrative this scene took place — I needed to figure it out. I needed to know what happened.

I started to work on it. I didn't scan the original piece. I forgot there was a prior step until I went looking through my pages, trying to find this line of dialogue. But there was more. A lot more. That initial scene started in one place and ballooned in every direction. Another new starting place was found. An entire sequence was dropped.

Then the thing sat and gestated. I went to work on other elements. I worked on other projects. There was a wedding. There was some life too. And MoCCA.

When I returned to the comic, I had changed and solidified some ideas. I had thought about format and visual concepts. I thought about some of the things I could do with this scene. I figured out a way to use this scene as an opening chapter — a prologue — without diminishing in any way the big scene I had originally planned to start with. In fact, it could magnify that scene. Strengthen its impact (all of this assumes, of course, a competency of execution I'm not at all convinced I'll demonstrate).

And then I struck on something that made it all even better. Hans Christian Anderson. There was something missing from my first draft of this scene and it was a detail I wasn't all that concerned with. I trusted myself to come up with it later (where does this blind faith come from?). Essentially, I needed my characters to be doing something when the the big event happened. This is an element that I think most people under-appreciate and, under-think-and under-play: the what you are doing when life happens.

It's something that David Lynch excels at. Has someone done a montage of David Lynch characters eating while stuff is happening? I love those eating scenes in Twin Peaks. Think of Ben Horne eating with his brother in the Great Northern.

But I had nothing. I had a location: a grade-school field trip. I knew my protagonist. I knew my antagonists: her classmates and teacher. I knew who my protagonist was with at every point in this story. I knew how it ended.

But I didn't know what the field trip was. I didn't know what they were learning. And then I thought about animals and zoos and museums and animals in a zoo for kids and ducks and Motherfucking Hans Christian Anderson. I could finally kill that guy in his sleep. Oh, and I thought about Boudica as well. Boudica vs Hans Christian Anderson: your daughters' futures are the stakes.

Then it was time to start writing again. This is how I write:
Sometimes I wonder why I don't do my finished comics in ballpoint.

I took that drawing and pencilled it on Bristol board. Then I attacked the board with crow quill pens and brushes. I didn't gank the threshold or bitmap this, so you can see the brushmarks and un-erased pencils (I normally erase)

I kinda love that panel. I got the girls just right, I thought. Composition is legible and gives you something to do with your eyes. But I wanted a bit more. This is the first panel, the first page, the very first thing in this comic. My main character has no feet in the above panel. And her name sucks a little. Normally, I'd leave it as is. Uncentered lettering and all. BUt I wanted to see if I could do a little more. Maybe even push the background a bit more (at all).

I let it sit for a couple weeks.

I pencilled this last night and thought it was ready to ink. Then I inked that hand and decided it was beyond crap. And it was in the wrong position. So I decided to do something else. I taped a piece of clear vellum to the top and started working the image over. What you see above is actually the original pencils with pencil alterations I made while working on the vellum over it.

The vellum:

I pushed teach off to the left about as far as I could, while keeping her gesture and authority and age recognizable. I added more kids and another duck. I pushed the protagonist off further to the right.I added more background characters (guards, walkety people) and more rows of pillars.

At first, I was trying to draw this vellum piece as close to a finished piece as possible, even though I planned to light table it onto bristol anyway. But then I started making post-ink changes: that one heavy-lined girl and the guards and pillars, actually). I decided to go loose. It's a mix.

Tomorrow, I hope to get the thing light-tabled and ready for color. The next terrifying step.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SKETCHES OF ASTRONAUT VAMPIRES IN COLOR

So, I have these inks, see? These colored inks, ya hear? I've been wanting to play with them for a while, you follow?

Anyway, had a stab at last night's quick sketch:

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VAMPIRE ASTRONAUTS POST MOCCA

Friday, June 12, 2009

HOW HOT WAS MoCCA?

HAHAHAHA. I actually wasn't going to say say MoCCA was nearly as hot as people have been making it out to have been (I mean, we were in the ultra-smelly, air-conditionless room in 2005 and last year's 100 degree day wasn't mitigated by air conditioning), but then I saw the picture Shawn Hoke posted of Marcos and I from Saturday's show. HAHAHAHA

He also has a photo of John Mejias' new Paping. This is the first time since... SPX 2005(?) That I haven't bought something(s) awesome from one of the Paping/Partyka tables (I didn't realize Shawn Cheng had a new book). That new Paping book, by the way, is absolutely beautiful. Any other year, I would have bought it already and tore through it. Any other year. But at $100... not this year. John took me on a tour of it though. I think it's safe to say that they've surpassed Paping 14 (my #2 book of 2006).

Jog had some nice words to say about Mr. Eybyaninch #2 and a look at some cool books. Pushwagners Soft City is the one I'm beating myself over not getting. All is not a loss, though. I actually DID get a Romanian comics anthology, so who is jealous now?

It's been a while since I've promised a thorough look at the books of a past show, and even longer since I fulfilled such a promise. I make no promises now, but I really do hope I find the time and energy to put one together.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

MOCCA B TIRED

Exhausted from MoCCA. Wish I got around more. It was great to see as many of you for the few minutes we saw each other. Wish we had spent more time together, wish I saw those I missed.

Unpacking soon. I think this was the first time in years i was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of comics.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

TRULY The Only Map You Will Need Of The MoCCA Fest 2009 Floor.

Well, it took some doing, but I think we've finally arrived. First, I noticed that some people were getting their table assignments much earlier than we were.

This sparked a flame war that rocked the blogosphere:



Then, four days before the show, Marcos noticed that he wasn't listed amongst the exhibitors and wanted to make sure there would be a badge available for him.

Then we found out that I was listed as an exhibitor by mistake... because we had no table! Some snafu happened somewhere at some point in the past year and no money transacted. We came thisclose to arriving on the stony steps of the armory, loaded down with comics, to a greeting of confused looks, slacken jaws and cruel laughter before being turned away to find some bitter solace at Roomali.

But now they won't turn us away. Roomali will have to wait. Until our lunch breaks.

Here it is, babes, brutes and brooders: TRULY The Only Map You Will Need Of The MoCCA Fest 2009 Floor.

Monday, June 01, 2009

MUSIC ASSEMBLE!

Some old-school blog typing while I try to rebuild the texture on my fingertips. Damn you, hole punch!

Albums listened to while assembling books for MOCCA:

1. Underworld — Dubnobasswithmyheadman
2. 808 State — Ninety
3. The Orb — The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
4. Orbital — Orbital
5. Meat Beat Manifesto — Actual Sounds + Voices
6. Meat Beat Manifesto — Satyricon
7. Meat Beat Manifesto — At the Center
8. Cybotron — Clear
9. The Future Sound of London — Dead Cities
10. Aphex Twin — Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2
11. The Future Sound of London — Lifeforms

MOCCA 2009 DAY BEWS

BOOKS THAT WILL BE AT THE MOCCA EXPO FOR THE FIRST TIME, BUT DEBUTED AT SPX IN 2007 AND HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE AT A NUMBER OF STORES FOR SOME MONTHS NOW:




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