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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Loose Ends!

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

I went down a bit of a rabbit-hole lately, going through my stacks and stacks of old comic art and stories going back to my earliest months in High School. I was looking for stories and art to include in pdf anthologies I was putting together as bonus rewards for the Wahoo Morris Kickstarter.

One thing that struck me during the process was how prolific and full of ideas I was at a younger age. I would start multiple stories at the same time, finishing some, abandoning others.

The better I got, and the more ambitious I got, the greater the tendency to abandon a project and start over from scratch or move on.

Honestly, that didn’t change much as I turned pro, except that I’ve never had problems finishing if there is an outside influence, like a deadline or paycheck!

And I no longer start the same idea over from scratch again and again.

But my archives are full of half-done or briefly sketched out ideas for short stories and pin-ups I never quite got around to finishing.

Though, lately, I seem to have reversed my inclinations.

I’ve been stalled out on starting something new for ages. And the ideas just are not flowing.

But, after a slow startup, I seem to find it easy to finish off old loose ends.

I’ve been sick this week, and unable to concentrate through the fog and fever, I’ve tried to keep productive with some busy work.

I started by fleshing out my sketch for the back-cover portion of an intended wraparound cover to Sîan #1 and then picking away at the inks until it was completed. This one has been on the to-do list for awhile as one of my next to-be-published projects is a full-colour single issue of Sîan. Drawing a billion coins on the floor of a treasure vault was a little challenging while dizzy with a fever!

I then pulled out a sketch I had started as a potential cover to a planned pin-up/art book before changing my mind and abandoning it. I originally started drawing it last fall, so it’s not that old of a project, but it was based on a doodle I made on the back of a Katie & Orbie location design from around 15 years ago! I finished penciling it, then inked it, and will probably end up using it as the back cover to that proposed book.

Then, wanting to keep busy, I pulled out this abandoned pin-up I started over 10 years ago for an Edgar Rice Burroughs Fanzine a colleague was involved in at the time. It was of a scene from the novel the Cave Girl, and I was trying to do my best J. Allen St. John impersonation!

Deadlines got in the way and it sat unfinished until now.

I imported it into Clip Studio yesterday and inked it from scratch just for the hell of it. It really has no purpose, but it can replace the pencil and partially inked version that was going to go in the Art Book.

And to keep the momentum going, today, I pulled out 3 other old pin-up sketches and started fleshing them out as well as pulling out a 3 page story I started in 1997 that was supposed to be my first submission to Mythography but was abandoned when I couldn’t shoe-horn the plot into the allotted 3 pages. If I can flesh it out to 4 pages, then the planned anthology book of my Mythography and Forbidden Book stories will be a few pages longer.

And maybe, just maybe, getting a bunch of finished art done in a short period of time just might start to knock loose some of those mental blocks that are still getting in the way of the new ideas starting to flow again!

Colouring Practice

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

I have had a very sporadic experience with color.

I have primarily worked in black and white comics. The real exception has been for covers and I haven’t had the opportunity to do that many of them. So when I have had the opportunity/need, it seems like I am re-learning a new method each time.

Way back in the stone age at Aircel Publishing, the method everyone in the studio was using for colouring was to colour directly on the inked original art using Markers and coloured pencils. There was an air brush attachment nozzle for using the markers with a can of compressed air even.

1987_MayanStory_Pg_02     1989_DinosaursForHireGN2     1988_DinosaursForHire07

I used that technique on a back cover for Samurai #11, two covers for Dinosaurs For Hire (Graphic Novel Vol. 2 shown), as well as two unpublished short stories, and most of an issue of a comic I ended up scrapping when Aircel stopped publishing colour comics.

And that was it for colour for a loooong time. I just didn’t have the need.

When I started self-publishing Wahoo Morris I did a lot of research trying to find out what the best method for colouring was. Digital was still not the norm, especially for self-published books. Influenced by artists like Michael W. Kaluta and Charles Vess, I decided to go with a combination of painting with Dr. Martin and Kohinoor water colour dyes.

For the first issue I photo copied the line art at print size onto a small sheet of bristol paper and coloured in the hopes of getting sharper black lines. I wasn’t crazy about the results, but it sufficed. I continued the next 3 covers (the last one shown unpublished) by painting directly on the original art.
WahooMorris_01_ColourCVrArt     WM_02_Cvr_Scan    WahooMorris_03_ColourCVrArt     WM_05_AliciaCvr

I went digital shortly after this using Photoshop. I didn’t have trouble with the flatting process (picking the basic colours), and adding a few gradients and highlights here and there,  but I would always then freeze, unsure of what to do next.
WM_01_(i)_cvr     WM_vol2_01_Cvr1

For the cover for Wahoo Morris Vol. 2 # 1 (issue 4) a did a few colour holds, turning black lines into colour lines which made the colour job look a little fancier, but the technique still remained pretty flat.

For my story (with Jim Bricker) in the Image Anthology Comic Book Tattoo,  again, I coloured it using a pretty flat technique. In that story’s case I was going for a bit of a Tintin lingue claire style, so flat colours were appropriate.
God_PAGE01     God_PAGE02

After that, I didn’t need to colour again until I decided to start publishing Wahoo Morris digitally on Comixology as singles and I ran out of left over covers to use.

I have had a number of finished B&W covers waiting in line to get coloured for several months.

The biggest change came a couple of months ago when  I switched my drawing software from Manga Studio 4 EX to Clip Studio (Manga Studio 5). It has all the functionality of Manga Studio for Black & White line art, but it adds the functionality of really good painting software. And the Ray Frenden Brushes are the most natural feeling digital brushes I have tried yet. I’ve been itching to try them out for colour for awhile now.

And, about two weeks ago, wanting to add new comics to my email newsletter opt-in sequence, I quickly coloured the front cover to Sîan #1. While I’m not unhappy with how it turned out, it probably won’t make it to print as the cover was drawn as a wrap-around and I haven’t finished inking the back portion and that might change the colour choices.

A few days later, needing a piece of art for a new convention banner and cover art for the Kickstarter page, I forced myself to sit down and colour the wrap around cover art to Wahoo Morris #10 (Comixology Edition).

I’m actually semi-pleased with how this turned out, though I will probably go in and fix a few details before it gets used in print. I feel I’m starting to get the soft modeling and more painterly approach that I was able to get with Dr. Martins and water colours fairly easily.

I have continued to get a bit more colouring practice in over the next few weeks, finishing the covers for Wahoo Morris #8 and #9, the front cover of my Unknown Vistas One Shot, and I have begun colouring the interior pages of Sîan. Though for that I am using a simper technique, as the water colour painting technique I have been using for covers would be too time consuming for an entire book!

WM_08_Cvr_01NoLogo     WM_09_Cvr_01     UnkownVistas_CVR_Colour     Sian_01_pg01_RGB

I’m going to continue picking away at colouring Sîan over the next few weeks, and I have a few other Wahoo Morris goodies that need colouring, so I should be posting more soon!

Throwback Thursday – Swords & Sorcery !

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Okay, there are no swords in this one, but there is sorcery!

I was given the opportunity back in ’97 to contribute stories to the Fantasy anthology Mythography. This was my second story, and my longest.

When I created Sîan I was reading a lot of Red Sonja and watching Xena. I wanted to create a female Sword & Sorcery adventure character   that was realistic with no super powers or goddess bestowed strength and powers. Her costume design is meant to be practical and functional, at least for the cat burgling during the hot summer months of the Mediterranean-like city she is employed in during this story. She doesn’t go out in public dressed like that unless hid under her cloak! And her outfit will change depending on the situation and adventure. Her hair style is the true signature costume.

And, yes, there are some elements in the beginning of the story that might seem a little misogynistic, especially Sîan’s own attitude toward her gender. Her city is meant to be a Hyborian age pre-empire Roman-like city state, and women are not equal citizens so her own belief in the equality of the sexes might not be up to modern standards, at least at this early stage of her career. And… I was working backwards initially from a joke twist ending that required her to be willing and eager to take the Wizard’s offer of turning her into a man! When I decided to play the story a little more straight, and leave Sîan intact as a female character I could use in further stories, I still needed her to be frustrated enough with her being trapped in a world where women are not considered equal to be  believable that she would jump at that offer. I put her through the wringer to get her there, though!

Read through to the end. I promise the pay off is good.

And, while I never thought it would be a twenty year break, Sîan will return! I’ve got plenty more stories to tell.

Throwback Thursday – 90’s Bad Girls!

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

I’m going through my archives, scanning in old artwork, looking for short stories  and pinups and sketches to publish.

Every once in a while I come across an oddity I had forgotten about.

This one comes from the summer of 1997. I got offered the “opportunity” to work on a Double Impact/Luxura cross over comic. I didn’t know anything about Luxura other than she was a 90’s bad girl vampire character but Double Impact I was a little more familiar with as I had read about their initial sales success and flipped through the odd issue in my Local Comic Shop.

It wasn’t my cup of tea, but back in those days I’d draw pretty much anything for cash if I had the room in my schedule, and the page rate was okay, so I agreed to do the job.

I should have been tipped off that it was not going to go well when they started sending the script two or three pages at a time and blaming MY fax machine for cutting out. I asked them to send the script to a commercial fax machine at my local Mail Boxes Etc. and the “issues with MY fax machine” continued as they continued to send it a few pages at a time. Pages were coming in so slowly that I was worried I wasn’t going to hit the deadline.

And… the script was the most illiterate piece of trash I have ever seen, being almost unreadable!

But I persisted.

When the book finally came out, half the dialogue was different than the script, even ignoring the flow of the art, dropping jokes that were in the script that I had played up well. It read like someone had made up the dialogue on the spot just looking at the art.

I believe I did this story under a page a day schedule, which for my style is quite tight. I’m more of a pencil a page a day / ink a page a day kind of guy. But I got it done and in by the deadline. They were thrilled and solicited a two issue mini with me listed as the artist.

But…. the payment deadline passed with no check. Another month passed, then another month and they kept making excuses and putting me off. Eventually the publisher told me the book was in the red and he couldn’t pay me, and to add insult to injury, he claimed the editor had stolen a whole bunch of art including my pages.

So, I never got payed, had my art stolen, and had to buy a copy of the comic off the racks so I would have a record of the job. Fortunately I had the foresight to photocopy the whole job before mailing it.

And they were upset when I told them I wasn’t doing the follow up mini until I got paid for the first job.

Oh well. I eventually wrote the whole thing off as a bad debt on my taxes, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

Oddly enough, I actually kind of enjoyed doing the job, as it was the closest to “Commercial Big Two”  work I had ever done at that point. And looking back, I’m embarrassed by the “Bad Girl” subject matter, but I think I did an OK job all things considered!


Monday, October 2nd, 2017

No Inktober challenge for me this year.

I was planning on participating, going so far as organizing a themed prompt list for myself and planning  a chapbook/sketchbook to publish the results.

Then on Friday I signed on to storyboard on a new (to me ) TV show. It starts the second week of November, I’m guaranteed two episodes and if I get the style of the show to their satisfaction it will run until April. So the next 5 months I will be working 14 hour days 7 days a week with minimal down time.

Which means I have 5 weeks left to get Wahoo Morris Book 2 and my short story anthology book print ready, or I won’t have them for next years convention circuit. And I need to get the Kickstarter for Wahoo Morris prepped and ready for launch. And…. I was planning on starting my next comic project today as well, the inks of which I was going to use as a few of my Inktober pieces.

Now reality has set in, and instead of multi-tasking and doing a little bit every day of a bunch of projects,  I need to rank them in order of importance and get each one done before moving on to the next.

So, for this years Inktober, I’ll post art with the #Inktober hashtag if I get any done, but I won’t be attempting to hit it daily.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to commit to it.

In the meantime, here are all 14 of my pieces from 2016 in one place.