Dec 31, 2005
Well that about does it for Guatemala. I was talking with my publisher NBM a couple of days ago about possibly doing a travel book in the near future. So I may take these and sort of "redo" them in a way, make them a bit easier to read, and throw some color on them. My hope is beyond just comics to incorporate photographs, textures and some of the watercolor paintings, and oil paintings from various trips that I've taken.
If and when it happens I'll keep an update here on the blog.
Have a Happy New Year...and be safe.
Dec 28, 2005
In reality there was nothing Third World about it. These people had a better grasp on the things that matter than we did in the states. It was far from Utopia but the strong sense of family, community and tradition was pervasive throughout the region.
It had been my first time out of the country I had an idea of what to expect, but then there were plenty of surprises despite the many months of research. One of the bigger surprises to me was we were there for three weeks and I ended up losing 12 pounds. That's 12 pounds of muscle mass as I was already lean to begin with. Even though I was able to work out everyday like had been, we hiked, trekked, and cavorted through jungle over mountain and across streams. I must admit I probably sweated more there than I had in the last six years of lifting. Another surprise is how charged your senses are. My recall memory was working overtime trying to keep up with all the details. From the day we dropped in I was in record mode. Each day I'd paint and photograph, and at night, if we had available light I'd record the days events in my sketch journal. If we didn't I'd do it the next morning. For the next four days I'll be sharing that journal. So sit back, relax and enjoy traveling to Guatemala!
Dec 27, 2005
Much time went into this piece.
Most of it in the thumbnail and thought process phase. By no means do I think this is brilliant. I get myself in a bind sometimes when it comes to choosing the "best" image. I think what was hard is I had no story to focus on, so I had to create one. Reading the first issue gave me very little to go by. I got the flavor, but I didn't know what it was ultimately about. I could have recreated a cover to suit the book, but I didn't feel like that would have been the best option either.
I didn't want to slight Tony whose recreation of an early Frazetta cover was really what was suppose to grab people.
Basically I settled on an image. Tentacles seem lame to me as an "alien" design. But as it is I'd put in so much time, I was losing patience I think, and didn't want to flesh out several of the aliens that I had come up with.
So this turned into a project of execution.
While I still worked to convey a story, a moment of discovery for Fear Agent: Heath I wanted to try a few fun things that I've yet to do. One is the black colored pencil toning that I did directly on the blackline, which by the way was a mix of a pilot pen and brushwork. I like the pilot pen when I sketch in my sketchbooks, but I certainly need to treat it like crowquill as it has a tendency not to dry immediately. I like the sketch quality of it. Though...I think possibly crowquill would have been a better choice. More research is needed maybe next time.
Dec 26, 2005
So...here's a few pieces from various projects. The one above was inspired by graphic character mascots of the '50s. I love old ads, and the generic art that sometimes accompanied them. I'd still like to explore the possibilities of doing a ton of clip art for just any old occasion. Speaking of which the last piece was a birthday card for my Dad this year. I know, it looks like 1987 all over again, but the Michael Schwab graphic approach was on my mind, and the aqua from that era came up immediately. It's clearly not Scwab, but to keep this image simple was the real goal.
The others were from a couple of jobs I did a little while back.
Okay...that's it...I think I'll try to shake hands with the sandman now.
Dec 25, 2005
Here's a collection of thumbnails from various projects past, present and future. I draw until it feels right to me, or I have to commit to see the project through. Usually it's the latter in my case. I don't have that magic touch yet, where I can just breath the life into a piece. I sweat the whole way through trying to find the perfect balance. This Agent Fear piece is kicking my butt. I want to include all the things that make the character who he is, and then add stuff rarely seen in a sci-fi piece. I'll be posting the process progress as I go.
Last year about this time I was bound and determined to get cover work. Took a whole month off of freelancing to round up some covers to send off to publishers. By the time I had finished the whole lot I realized that they were high on concept, consistently executed, and not an ounce of "HUZZAH!". I was fighting the good fight, avoiding the "glamour shot" covers of heroes standing on a lone rock while some photographer to the superheroes snapped their pick looking all menacing like some new hip hop crew with fresh record deal. Doesn't mean crap. At the end of the day if it doesn't kick you in the Tetons, then nobody else will care that hand-crafted the lace-work on some superchicks brassiere. So I went back to storytelling and studying the illustrators of yesterday. I'll try again maybe next year.
Women are hard to draw for me. I hate to admit it but it's true. Ever since I moved out West I've made it a point to learn from life, print and photo about women, their sexuality, their prowess and their character. I think I have the right mindset to tackle the temptuous subject matter but their's a certain abandon or knowing that I'm lacking. Every so often I get lucky and I say, "Aha," there it is...how'd that happen? I get lucky more often than I used to...drawing women that is. Much like they are in a relationship, they're difficult and magical when you try to figure them out.
Spiderman was the first of the crack cocaine of comics heroes I understood as a child, but Batman was certainly the second. I tend to like drawing Batman more, but like women, I get lucky from time to time but couldn't draw him consistently if I tried. I guess I don't believe in the version I see. And to make him mine, well I haven't been given carte blanche so why waste my time? Still there's a simple mystique and mythos about the character that makes him appealing. I, like so many others, have the ultimate Batman story that I'd like to do. Honestly I don't think DC would even give serious thought. It's so against the...uh...grain if you will of what the character represents, but I think the story would be very cool...very historical, and believable. Otherwise if I did something a little safer I'd treat him more like 1940s noir detective in a cape. Screw all that dark brooding crap. Put that in the backseat and fire up the sedan, it's Raymond Chandler time!
Happy Holidays to the initiated!
Dec 24, 2005
There are days when I can work like horse from dawn 'til dawn and there are some days that I may give in to flights of fancy. I'll jump from one medium or style to another feeling out what it is I really want to do.
Like in life, I believe the hardest question for me was "What do you want to do?" Maybe others go through that period to all the while doing "something" to maintain a modicum of a lifestyle. I guess I thought that one day you'd wake up and there'd be this moment of resolution and you'd set to your life's passion. It didn't happen that way for me.
For years I struggled with what "I could do", "what I had to do", and "what I wanted to do." They're all very different things, and they required a varying degree of skill to decipher and execute.
From early on in my career I was lucky enough to have a diversified start in art. "I could do" many things consistently. It helped keep me in work to not specialize. I'd look around me and see who the best artists were and why. Then I'd learn what I could from them. I'd look at the studios I worked in and asked myself, "what's not present that is needed?" Again, I'd figure out a niche without wholly specializing. For me specialization equals "boredom". Doing one thing in one style forever tweaking the nuances...just seems dull. At least I figured that out at the very beginning. "I could do, " I think stemmed mostly from instincts of surviving in my art career.
"What I had to do," was kind of a given. I had to make money to pay bills and get where I wanted in life. For me I chose careers that would build a diverser portfolio, with each job helping me get the next job. It kept my life interesting, and I always sought out something that I knew integrally I wanted from each job. When the politics got rough, or the job lost interest to me or I stopped learning and got comfortable, that's when I'd move on. "What I had to do," I think came from the mind, the common sense to keep me afloat.
"What I wanted to do," well that's been the hardest. It's suppose to stem from passion, from your heart. Every successful creative will tell you to follow it. It's the scariest most unsure road you will travel. It's much like "love". It's illogical and bold, and puts you at risk. Otherwise I think you'd see a lot more people doing it...and possibly happier at that.
For me I thought it was easiest to say "art is my passion." I figured that should cover the spectrum. I mean I live, breath, sleep, and eat art so it would have to be my passion. It's like having conjoined twin that I need to keep me alive. Not really, I mean I wouldn't die without it. Not immediately. But then I don't want to find out.
The blanket of calling out "art is my passion" was too easy, but it at least was a direction. It took a few more years to understand how my true passions would fit in with the lifestyle I had attained doing "what i had to do." I had to be creative in my thinking, and lucky in my networking to sustain the freelance career I have now. Being better than the next guy is fine, but being more diverse than the next ten guys is what keeps me from having to work for the man.
Dec 23, 2005
At any rate I've done what I could to get my work noticed. Oddly enough editors seem to think I"m capable but "have no style". It's like being the "nice guy" but not the guy anyone wants to date. So I find myself getting lucky here and there meeting people who may want a cover or pinup done for their book.
It started when I got to know Robert Kirkman. He was doing Battle Pope at the time and we belonged to a group called Radius. We all had a modicum of talent and have since gone on to do well. He's doing quite well writing like a madman for Marvel and for his own books at Image. He'd ask the guys in the group if we'd want to do a back-up story or pinup, and I'd jump at the chance. Partly because I wasn't sure about the reproducibility of some of the techniques I wanted to try. And partly because I needed to get over the "I hate seeing my work in print". To me it never looked good enough, clear enough, slick enough. It was underwhelming to me, which made me believe that's what editors generally saw too.
So these thumbails are an attempt at working with the Fear Agent character for Rick Remender and Tony Moore's book of the same name. Rick liked the one I had done for B. Clay Moore's Hawaiian Dick and was encouraging to accept a pinup if I were to do one. The thing is while I like the era portrayed and some of the elements, I don't quite get the characters motivation. To me, if I don't get it, it starts feeling generic or derivative and unfulfilling when I try to come up with something. Hence...all the thumbnails. There's several in the batch that are "fine", but there's nothing in there that really says...AHA!
Maybe I don't see it yet. Back to the board.
Dec 22, 2005
Dec 21, 2005
It was the last quarter of art school and everyone was cramming to get their portfolios in. I had finished mine over spring break so now I was just trying to fill up my resume with decent art gigs. At the time I was illustrating 5 manuals for the American Cancer Society on How to Quit Smoking. I needed the money and the experience so I took on 100 illustrations 5 covers and a logo for $500. Crazy how I whored myself out like that. But it gets worse...or better depending on how you look at.
Anyway this publisher called me up out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to draw his book called, "The Eradicators". I think at the time Ron Lim was working on Captain America, and he had done the first few issues of the book. So I thought I'm well on my way. As a publisher though his ambitions were to be the next Marvel Comics, and he was putting out about 10-20 comics a month off the money he'd made from selling a script to "Hollywood". At least that's how I heard it.
The first thing I did was I called Scott, and asked him if he'd want to ink my work. As inker of my own work I was still trying to "find myself." He somehow took to it pretty easily. A week later we received these contracts in the mail, which clearly meant this guy was legit. I even went to consult with a lawyer who told us how legit he was.
He said, "Well you're basically signing away everything. Not much different than slavery."
And sign away we did for the next three years we'd be working for him. Yeah...silly isn't it, but this was our "big break"?
At the time I think another friend of mine was inking a book for him as well, called The Edge or Legion X or something, but I'll get to that in a bit.
For some reason I remeber Scott getting to do the first cover, which really took the wind out of my sails. I mean that's the reward for doing all 22 pages of art, right! I did however get to color it. The insides however were atrocious. In fact I was so concerned with the deadline after getting these pages in late, that for the next book I just blue-penciled everything. I didn't even bother with thumbnails. I figured Scott would do some kind of magic act when he'd throw ink on it and it would come out just fine.
Abyssmal I believe was defined by our efforts on these books. For that I take most of the blame. I felt bad too, because I think this was Scott's first published writing.
While doing our first issue together (#5) my other friend was in a bind trying to meet an inking deadline. So he came over and we stayed up all night inking (remember, I couldn't ink to save my soul) about 17 pages. Our styles, or lack thereof didn't mesh one bit. It was a mess, and I think the beer we were drinking wasn't strong enough to convince us otherwise.
It was around this time that I moved to Indiana. Scott moved home I think and I took a job at a T-shirt company. We were starting issue #8 of the book, and that's when I decided to quit. The publisher as it happens so often hadn't paid us for the work. I crafted a strongly worded letter mentioning not wanting to be a part of his "empire".
He had been calling earlier expressing his interest in doing an erotic superhero book called, "The Last Wild Bitch." Looking at my art at the time was probably the most unsexy thing I could have done for myself. The other book was a one-shot movie adaptation of a Dolph Lundgren film called, "I Come In Peace." This was going to be in color, all of which was going to be my responsibility at the same page rate of...oh..I don't know zero. But I had had enough of it, comics was making me miserable.
After the letter was sent I promptly received a check for $150. I really needed the money, but I thought if I cashed it, then he would have fulfilled his part of the contract, and I'd get sued for breaking my part of the deal. But hell 3 years is a long time to be unhappy.
Dec 20, 2005
Oh we certainly tried. We tried several times. I think I started the book a good four or five times. Even managed to get to 22 pages before the wind was knocked out of our sails. I think it was around that time, that it sort of "went away." Scott went off and did some work and I went off and did some work. It wasn't until about 1999 or 2000, I can't quite remember, I started getting emails from Scott. At least I think it was Scott. It was a fifteen page beginning to =O=, but it was like nothing I had ever read. It was like reading it again for the first time. A few days later another fifteen showed up, and then a chapter took shape. Within a month and half I'd guess Scott had written a novel and it finally had an ending.
The crazy thing about it, is it wasn't really Scott. I mean it was but it was like...a man being used as a vessel to deliver words of a higher power. I'd never seen him write like this, with such clear and succinct description, such poignant and powerful dialogue. The atmosphere and tone caused me to shudder in excitement and fear. Like the kind of fear you have before repelling into a volcano. You don't know if you'll come back alive. In essence, it reminded me of how Robert E. Howard was writing Conan, as if the barbarian himself was sitting across a fire telling him verbatim the stories of his life.
Scott was burned out needless to say. He handed it off to me as if I was his relay partner and he was done with his part and now I was to bring it to the finish line. I didn't feel like I knew how to break it down into a comic book from there, and to retain his intent enough. We've always felt a strong partnership on this project, we shared the same mindset for it. We've done other projects, but this was akin to having offspring. So I waited for Scott to recover. I think it took about three or four years. I goaded him to transcribe it into a comic script, giving him a chance to make some hard story choices. I didn't want that responsibility. As it is I knew my plate was going to be running over with tasks.
So this year with 3 books written, I started the task of concepting and realizing and remembering the world of =O=. I had finally a good grounding in production to establish a feasible working environment to get the results I needed. I was basically setting out to create a map of the characters, places and events, a tome if you will. I only got as far as the first book, but it's enough to get started. I did test pages after I had the concept book knocked out. I tried different techniques, different paper, and different processes until I found something that really spoke to me, and would keep me excited about the project. It would have to, I don't plan on releasing anything until all three books are done. So as for feedback, it's just going to be between Scott and myself. When we're ready, then we'll let our child go out into the world with a loaded handgun. Hopefully it grips people with the same kind of fear and reverence that it did us. Suffice it to say, here's pretty much the style and look of the book.
Dec 19, 2005
As an adult I think I translated that to wanting a richer experience, and to see things that challenged my perceptions. I hope in my lifetime we'll be able to experience what the pulp writers and illustrators of the atomic age had only a chance to dream about. I think the dream is still alive, but we're all just waiting for technology to catch up. It's made it as far as films, but in practical applications we're probably a few light years away.
These drawings here were some designs for a comic project that's in the works...again, from my sketchbooks.